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Ex-Obama official named to lead Atlanta Fed


The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta on Monday named Raphael Bostic, an economist, professor and former housing official under President Obama, as its new president.

Bostic, 50, is the first African-American president at one of the dozen Fed regional banks. Since leaving the government in 2012, he has been a professor in public policy at the University of Southern California.

He will take the position during a time of economic transition and political turmoil. Fed leaders, apparently persuaded that the economy has finally healed from the recession, are poised to raise benchmark interest rates again this week.

That strategy — aimed at heading off inflation — would be bolstered if the Trump administration follows through on promises to spend large amounts of money on infrastructure.

Janet Yellen, the current Federal Reserve chair, has been questioned during congressional testimony about the Fed’s historical lack of diversity. Her tenure notwithstanding, Fed leadership has been dominated by white men.

Dennis Lockhart, who resigned as Atlanta Fed president last month, told the Journal-Constitution that he supported an effort to add diversity to the ranks of the Fed.

Bostic will be the 15th president and CEO of the Atlanta Fed, and will take the position on June 5 .

The selection was approved by the Atlanta Fed’s board of directors, as well as by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System in Washington, D.C.

Tom Fanning, CEO of Southern Co. and chairman of the Atlanta Fed board, in a statement called Bostic “a seasoned and versatile leader, bringing with him a wealth of experience in public policy and academia. Raphael also has significant experience leading complex organizations and managing interdisciplinary teams. He is a perfect bridge between people and policy.”

Rep. David Scott, D-Atlanta, in a statement, called the appointment “historic.” He praised the Fed board and Fed officials for picking Bostic after listening to concerns about the Fed make-up and policy. Scott also thanked Lockhart for making unemployment a high priority in his work at the Fed.

Rep. John Lewis, D-Atlanta,  also praised the selection.

“Atlanta is the cradle of the Civil Rights movement, so it is only fitting that our city be home to the first African-American head of a Federal Reserve Bank,” he said. “While such an appointment is long overdue, I am proud that Atlanta is leading the way.”

Bostic is a graduate of Harvard University with a degree in economics and psychology. He has a doctorate in economics from Stanford.

He was assistant secretary for policy development and research at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development from 2009 to 2012, a position that required confirmation by the Senate.

Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., called Bostic “an outstanding choice.”

“Given the disparate economic experiences faced by key demographic groups, it is crucial that a broader cross-section of groups have a seat at the decision-making table,” said Waters, who is ranking member of the House Committee on Financial Services.



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