A look at the Federal Reserve’s historical lack of diversity

Nancy Marshall-Genzer Jan 5, 2022
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“If you’re intentionally creating a talent pool that is nondiverse, then you’re probably going to end up with a nondiverse outcome," Georgetown Law professor Chris Brummer says. Above, the Federal Reserve building in Washington, D.C. Daniel Slim/AFP via Getty Images

A look at the Federal Reserve’s historical lack of diversity

Nancy Marshall-Genzer Jan 5, 2022
Heard on:
“If you’re intentionally creating a talent pool that is nondiverse, then you’re probably going to end up with a nondiverse outcome," Georgetown Law professor Chris Brummer says. Above, the Federal Reserve building in Washington, D.C. Daniel Slim/AFP via Getty Images
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President Joe Biden is trying to diversify the Federal Reserve. There are reports that he’ll nominate Philip Jefferson for a seat on the Federal Reserve’s board of governors. Jefferson would be just the fourth Black man to serve as a Fed governor.

The seven members of the Fed’s board of governors are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. There wasn’t a Black governor until 1966.

There are also 12 regional Fed banks. According to Wharton School financial historian Peter Conti-Brown, there wasn’t a Black regional bank president until Raphael Bostic became head of the Atlanta Fed — in 2017.

“At the reserve bank level, there have been two nonwhite presidents besides Raphael Bostic. Both at the Minneapolis Fed — both South Asian,” he said.

Conti-Brown said there’s never been a Hispanic president at a regional Fed bank.

Discrimination and racism are part of the problem, said Georgetown Law professor Chris Brummer. There’s also too much emphasis on recruiting Ivy League economists, who tend to be white men.

“If you’re intentionally creating a talent pool that is nondiverse, then you’re probably going to end up with a nondiverse outcome,” he said.

Brummer added that Wall Street had done more to diversify than regulators, and could offer up more diverse candidates.

Correction (Jan. 5, 2022): Previous versions of this web and audio story mischaracterized past leadership at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. They have been corrected.

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