Dr. Lisa Cook Becomes First Black Woman to Serve on the Federal Reserve Board

Mandatory Credit: Photo by KEN CEDENO/POOL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock (12787746ag)Dr.
KEN CEDENO/POOL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock / KEN CEDENO/POOL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

In his continuing effort to diversify top federal positions, President Joe Biden’s nomination of Dr. Lisa DeNell Cook to serve in the Federal Reserve System was approved and for the first time in its 108-year history, a Black woman will be a member of the Fed’s board of directors.

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Cook’s confirmation came Tuesday after a party-line vote of 51-50 in the Senate, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the deciding vote. The vote on Tuesday was necessary because the Senate Banking Committee deadlocked her nomination 12-12. The tie forced the standard Senate vote to first discharge her nomination before advancing it for full Senate consideration.

An authority on international economics, particularly the Russian economy, the Georgia native has served on the executive committee of the American Economic Association since 2019 and was a member of the White House Council of Economic Advisors during the Obama administration.

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Cook earned her doctorate in economics from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1997 and has been a professor of economics and international relations at Michigan State since 2005, gaining assistant professor tenure in 2013. Most recently, she was part of Biden’s Agency Review Team, advising on the Fed and bank regulatory policy.

Cook’s nomination was widely opposed by Republicans, who questioned her experience with monetary policy and her soft stance on fighting inflation. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Penn.) was particularly outspoken about Cook, stating her comments on inflation during her confirmation were “logical applesauce.”

However, supporters have praised Cook’s broad experience and potential to bring a fresh perspective to the Fed board while condemning the Republican viewpoint as pompous and self-righteous.

With Cook on board, the Federal Reserve’s primary concern right now is getting inflation under control, something the recruit acknowledged in Senate meetings in February. Although the annual inflation rate slipped for the first time in eight months — a slight dip from 8.5% in March to 8.3% in April — it stayed close to the fastest clip in 40 years and gave little indication that it is calming.  

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Last week, the Fed announced its largest interest rate hike in 20 years, a 0.5% increase. A quarter point raise was approved in March and more boosts are expected this year.  

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About the Author

David Nadelle is a freelance editor and writer based in Ottawa, Canada. After working in the energy industry for 18 years, he decided to change careers in 2016 and concentrate full-time on all aspects of writing. He recently completed a technical communication diploma and holds previous university degrees in journalism, sociology and criminology. David has covered a wide variety of financial and lifestyle topics for numerous publications and has experience copywriting for the retail industry.

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