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Who is Lisa Cook? Historic Federal Reserve nominee faces Senate


Lisa Cook, associate professor at the Michigan State University, arrives for dinner during the Jackson Hole economic symposium, sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, in Moran, Wyoming, on Thursday, Aug. 23, 2018.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Wall Street and Washington will tune in Thursday to what’s expected to be a testy nomination hearing for President Joe Biden’s latest nominees to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors.

Among those preparing to testify is economist Lisa Cook, who would bring to the Fed a career steeped in equitability and inequality research and marked by proposals on how federal policy could help improve economic growth through better opportunities for women and racial minorities.

That resume, unusual for a Fed nominee, is likely what made Cook a favorite of many Democrats, including Senate Banking Committee Chairman Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio. Her nomination could also lead to a historic development for the central bank since Cook would be the first Black woman to serve on the Fed’s board in its 108-year history.

But the historic nature of her nomination doesn’t guarantee a smooth confirmation process in a Senate that is split 50-50 by party.

Republicans on the Banking Committee have taken to Twitter to criticize Cook’s social media posts, which the GOP says is rife with liberal advocacy. On Wednesday, the day before the hearing, the Republicans said Cook had blocked them on Twitter.

Biden nominated Cook, an economics professor at Michigan State University, to serve on the Fed’s board of governors at a critical juncture. If confirmed by the Senate, Cook would bring with her decades of research on race-based disparities and global economics at a time when the Fed seeks to orchestrate a pullback of its easy-money policies to fight inflation rates around 7%.

Cook offered her thoughts on inflation late last year, when she told Detroit-based WDET that the current jump in prices isn’t like prior increases.

“I would certainly say that we’re seeing inflation. I’m seeing my grocery bill go up just like everyone else,” she told the radio station in November.

“I would prefer to call what is happening ‘supply disruptions,’ because this economy is still being run by the pandemic,” she added. “If there were no pandemic, we wouldn’t be talking about this. We would still be — the Fed would still be worrying about hitting a 2% inflation target.”

The Georgia native will testify before the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday with fellow nominees Sarah Bloom Raskin, a former board member tapped for vice chair for supervision, and Philip Jefferson, an economist with central banking experience.

For much of her career, Cook studied disparities in the market for intellectual property and innovation. Specifically, she’s spent years trying to determine why the U.S. government grants so few patents to women and Black Americans.

“Whatever their source, gender and racial disparities exist at each stage of the innovation…


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