United States: Lisa Cook confirmed as governor at American central bank

Despite the opposition of the Republicans, this professor of economics and international relations was confirmed by the Senate. She becomes the first black woman to sit on the advice of the “Fed”.

Le Monde with AFP

The American Senate confirmed, Tuesday, May 10, the appointment to the post of governor of the American central reserve (Fed) of the economist Lisa Cook. The candidate chosen by President Joe Biden becomes the first black woman to occupy this function in 108 years of history.

The senators voted by 51 votes against 50 in his favor, the vote of the vice-president of the United States Kamala Harris having led to a majority. His appointment had come up against strong opposition. The senators were not thus, at the end of April, not managed to organize a final confirmation vote, the Republicans being opposed to this appointment. The leader of the Republicans in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, had even criticized Lisa Cook for having “pushed conspiracy theories” around racism and the police.

Lisa Cook was one of the White House economic advisers at the time of Barack Obama, but also in the Transition team of Joe Biden. For her supporters, she will bring a new perspective to the powerful federal reserve.

a childhood in the south

Professor of economics and international relations at the State University of Michigan, she devoted a large part of her research to economic scars, hitherto not measured, from discrimination on the production capacity of the greater economy in the world. She also graduated in economics from the University of Oxford and holder of a doctorate from the University of California in Berkeley, and speaks five languages, including French and Russian. She also worked on the recovery of Rwanda after the 1994 genocide.

“My convictions were shaped by my childhood in Milledgeville, in Georgia [south-east of the United States]. It was the south in the course of desegregation,” she explained on February 3, during her hearing Before the Senate banking committee. “The two sides of my family promoted a non-violent change alongside a family friend, Reverend Martin Luther King,” she added.

She “was one of the first black children to integrate her public school, and spent her life breaking racial and gender barriers”, then praised the senator from Georgia Raphael Warnock.

Daughter of a Baptist chaplain and a professor in nursing school, she also carries under the right eye the physical scar of racism, after being attacked, as a child, as she frequented a school Previously reserved for white students. In its native region, rather than allowing black people access to public swimming pools, they were destroyed, which led this economist to observe in his work the consequences of this discrimination, which, she explains , slowed down the entire society, not only the direct victims of injustice.

a council of governors to reshape

Its mandate runs until January 2024, and its appointment comes when the central bank must fight against strong inflation, without weighing on economic growth and employment.

“Dr. Cook understands how economic policy affects all Americans. She knows that workers are the engine of our economic growth and she understands that when everyone participates in our economy, it grows faster and stronger” , praised the Democratic senator Sherrod Brown in a press release.

She is one of the many positions that Joe Biden had to provide for the Fed, giving him the opportunity to reshape the Council of Governors of the Institution. Lael Brainard, who has been the only democrat since 2014, was confirmed at the end of April, as vice-president of the institution.

The Senate plenary assembly must still decide on the renewal of President Jerome Powell, to whom Joe Biden offered a second four-year term, as well as on the appointment to the post of governor of the African-American Philip Jefferson, a professor of economics who would become the fourth black man on the Fed Council. The White House must now offer a new candidate for the key post of vice-president of banking regulation, after Sarah Bloom Raskin, who had been chosen, has given up, for lack of sufficient support.

/Media reports.