Despite opposition from Republicans, the US Senate on Tuesday confirmed the appointment of economist Lisa Cook as governor of the US central bank (Fed). She becomes the first black woman to hold this position.
The senators voted by 51 votes against 50 in favor of the candidate chosen by President Joe Biden, the vote of the vice-president of the United States Kamala Harris having achieved a majority.
His appointment had been met with strong opposition. The senators were thus, at the end of April, unable 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.
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A multilingual governor
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 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.
A life spent breaking racial barriers
“My beliefs were shaped by my childhood in Milledgeville, Georgia (southeastern United States). It was the desegregationist South,” 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 Senator 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.
An institution remodeled by Biden
His mandate runs until January 2024, and his appointment comes as 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,” said Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown in a statement.
She is one of many positions that Joe Biden had to fill at the Fed, giving him the opportunity to reshape the institution’s board of governors.
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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, who Joe Biden has offered a second four-year term, as well as the gubernatorial appointment of Philip Jefferson, an African economics professor. -American. 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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