The US Senate confirmed, Tuesday, May 10, the appointment of economist Lisa Cook as Governor of the US Central Reserve (Fed). The candidate chosen by President Joe Biden becomes the first black woman to hold this office in 108 years of history.

Senators voted 51 to 50 in favor, with US Vice President Kamala Harris’ vote securing a majority. His appointment was met with strong opposition. The senators had thus, at the end of April, failed to organize a final confirmation vote, the Republicans being opposed to this appointment. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell even criticized Lisa Cook for “pushing conspiracy theories” around racism and the police.

Lisa Cook was one of the economic advisers to the White House during the Barack Obama era, but also in Joe Biden’s transition team. For her supporters, she will bring a new perspective to the mighty Federal Reserve.

A childhood in the South

A professor of economics and international relations at Michigan State University, she has devoted much of her research to the previously unmeasured economic scars of discrimination on the productive capacity of the larger economy. of the world. She also has a degree in economics from Oxford University and a doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley, and speaks five languages, including French and Russian. She also worked on Rwanda’s recovery from the 1994 genocide.

“My beliefs were shaped by growing up in Milledgeville, Georgia [southeastern United States]. It was the South in the process of desegregation, ”she explained on February 3, during her hearing before the Senate Banking Committee. “Both sides of my family were promoting nonviolent change alongside a family friend, the Reverend Martin Luther King,” she added.

She “was one of the first black children to enter her public school, and spent her life breaking down racial and gender barriers,” Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock said at the time.

The daughter of a Baptist chaplain and a teacher in a nursing school, she also bears the physical scar of racism under her right eye, after being attacked as a child when she attended a school previously reserved for white students. In her native region, rather than allowing black people access to public swimming pools, they were destroyed, which led this economist to observe in her work the consequences of this discrimination, which, she explains , slowed down the whole of society, not just the direct victims of injustice.

A council of governors to be remodeled

His mandate runs until January 2024, and his appointment comes at a time when the central bank must fight against high 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,” Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown said in a statement.

She is one of many positions Joe Biden had to fill at the Fed, giving him the opportunity to reshape the institution’s board of governors. Lael Brainard, who had been the only Democrat since 2014, was confirmed at the end of April as vice-president of the institution.

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


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