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Raphael Bostic to Be First Black President of a Fed Regional Bank

WASHINGTON — The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta on Monday shattered a 104-year-old racial barrier by naming Raphael W. Bostic as its new president.

Mr. Bostic, an economist and a former housing policy official in the Obama administration, will become the first African-American to lead any of the Fed’s 12 regional reserve banks, and just the fourth to serve on its policy-making committee, which raises and lowers interest rates.

The Fed has come under mounting pressure from congressional Democrats and liberal groups to increase the diversity of its leadership — particularly at the regional banks.

“This could have happened a long time ago, but we’re happy that it happened now, and I look forward to this being a steppingstone for many others to have this opportunity as well,” Mr. Bostic said in a videotaped statement released Monday by the Atlanta Fed.

Mr. Bostic also joked that he could now be the answer to a question on “Jeopardy!”

He will serve as chief executive of an institution with hundreds of employees, including economic researchers, bank regulators and people who work the plumbing of the financial system. The Atlanta Fed handles the central bank’s processing of electronic checks.

“He is a seasoned and versatile leader, bringing with him a wealth of experience in public policy and academia,” the Atlanta Fed’s board chairman, Thomas A. Fanning, said in a statement. “Raphael also has significant experience leading complex organizations and managing interdisciplinary teams. He is a perfect bridge between people and policy.”

Mr. Bostic, 50, is the director of the Bedrosian Center on Governance at the University of Southern California’s Sol Price School of Public Policy. He is an expert on housing policy, and he said he intended to focus the Atlanta Fed on housing-related issues.

Raphael W. Bostic, 50, a professor of governance at the University of Southern California, will join the Fed on June 5.

“We’re certainly going to be thinking about looking at how housing is contributing or hampering people’s quality of life,” Mr. Bostic said in the video statement.

Mr. Bostic’s views on monetary policy are unknown. He has little, if any, public record of discussing the subject. He will take his first turn as a voting member of the Fed’s policy-making committee in 2018. Five of the 12 regional reserve presidents vote each year. Mr. Bostic will join the Fed on June 5, replacing Dennis P. Lockhart, who joined the Fed in 2007 and stepped down in February upon reaching mandatory retirement.

After earning a doctorate in economics at Stanford University, Mr. Bostic joined the Fed as a staff economist in 1995 and began to develop an expertise in housing policy, including the Community Reinvestment Act, which requires banks to make loans in the communities from which they draw deposits.

He joined the U.S.C. faculty in 2001 as a professor in the School of Policy, Planning and Development, exploring issues like the effects of government regulations on the availability of homeownership.

His next stop was Washington: He was appointed in 2009 as assistant secretary for policy development and research at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. He helped orchestrate the Obama administration’s response to the collapse of the housing bubble before returning to U.S.C. in 2012.

His Fed appointment was welcomed by groups that have campaigned to increase the central bank’s diversity. Fifteen of the 16 members of the Fed’s policy-making committee are white. The exception is Neel Kashkari, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, whose parents immigrated from India.

Four African-American members of Congress sent a letter in October to the Fed’s chairwoman, Janet L. Yellen, urging the appointment of a black or Hispanic person to the Atlanta position. Ms. Yellen has also faced repeated questions about the Fed’s lack of diversity at recent congressional hearings and protests by Fed Up, a coalition of liberal groups pressing for greater diversity at the central bank.

“I could not be more thrilled about today’s announcement,” said Representative David Scott, a Georgia Democrat who co-signed the letter.

Source: nytimes

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