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New York Federal Reserve Pick Ignores Calls For Diversity

Matt Sayles
AP via Invision for UCLA Anderson School of Management
John Williams, then-president and CEO of Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, speaks at the UCLA Anderson Forecast at the UCLA campus in Los Angeles in 2015.

Despite calls for more diversity, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York has picked its new president, another white male.

The Federal Reserve system has long enshrined its independence in order to separate economic stability from the ebbs and flows of politics. And John Williams has had a distinguished career as an economist and earned a recommendation from former Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen.

But his selection pits the Fed’s independence against objections that the central bank is dominated by white men.

William’s nomination ignited fury from Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Corey Booker of New Jersey, and New York’s Kirsten Gillibrand. Gillibrand said in a statement that “The New York Fed has never been led by a woman or a person of color, and that needs to change.”

Gillibrand, along with Warren, pushed for congressional intervention.

The Fed has had a tried relationship with Congress, especially populists on the left and right who want to “audit the Fed” and who blame the central bank for the 2008 financial crisis.

The New York Fed is the most powerful bank in the system. It is most active in regulating financial services and setting interest rates. In a statement, the central bank praised Williams’ efforts to create a diverse workforce at his former post, the San Francisco Fed.

Charles is senior reporter focusing on special projects. He has won numerous awards including an IRE award, three SPJ Public Service Awards, and a National Murrow. He was also a finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists and Third Coast Director’s Choice Award.