The Fed’s First Black President Is Speaking Out About Economic Inequality

The Fed’s First Black President Is Speaking Out About Economic Inequality

TOPLINE

Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic—the first Black president in the history of the central bank—wants policymakers to take action to address inequalities in the economy, he told Bloomberg in an interview; Bostic’s comments come amid a renewed push for the Fed, long viewed as the protector of the wealthy Wall Street elite, to do more to combat systemic racism and economic injustice. 

KEY FACTS

(Economic Inequality) Bostic, who Bloomberg notes has not spoken often about race during his three-year tenure at the Atlanta Fed, has become a strong proponent of making economic opportunity more accessible to all. 

Last week, he wrote about his support for the Black Lives Matter movement and the steps the Atlanta Fed can take to combat institutional racism.  

Raphael Bostic, president and chief executive officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, speaks to members of the Harvard Business School Club of Atlanta at the Buckhead Club in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., on Wednesday, Feb
Raphael Bostic, president and chief executive officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, speaks to members of the Harvard Business School Club of Atlanta at the Buckhead Club in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., on Wednesday, Feb

“Systemic racism is a yoke that drags on the American economy,” he wrote. “This country has both a moral and economic imperative to end these unjust and destructive practices.”

Bostic also echoed recent comments by Fed Chairman Jerome Powell, who said Tuesday that “the burden of the downturn has not fallen equally on all Americans.”

Historically, the central bank has drawn criticism for its crisis programs that disproportionately help the ultra-wealthy by propping up the stock market, while those on the lower end of the income spectrum face stagnating wages and rock-bottom interest rates.  

Big number

(Economic Inequality)The Black unemployment rate was 16.8% in May, the Labor Department reported. That’s more than 3 percentage points higher than the overall unemployment rate, which clocked in at 13.3%. And unemployment isn’t the only way Black communities have been disproportionately hurt by the coronavirus pandemic. Black-owned small businesses have gone under at nearly twice the rate that white businesses were forced to close, for instance, and Black homeowners missed or deferred mortgage payments at more than three times the rate of their white counterparts.

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