Raphael Bostic, a former Obama administration housing official, was named president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, becoming the first African-American selected to lead one of the 12 regional Fed banks in the institution's century of existence.
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Mr. Bostic, a 50-year-old professor of public policy at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, will take over June 5, the Atlanta Fed said Monday. He succeeds Dennis Lockhart, who retired at the end of February after a decade of service, and his appointment was approved by the Atlanta Fed's board of directors and the Fed board of governors, the bank said.
Mr. Bostic's selection is notable for a central bank that has faced diversity issues. Even as the Fed is led by Chairwoman Janet Yellen, the central bank's leadership has been dominated by white males. There have been three African-Americans on the Fed's board of governors, the last of whom, Roger Ferguson, left office in 2006.
The hiring of Mr. Bostic was heralded by the left-leaning activists of the Center for Popular Democracy's Fed Up Coalition, which has been pressing the central bank to ensure its policy actions benefit all members of the economy and not just the wealthy.
Mr. Bostic's hiring is a historic action for the Fed, and a "step in the right direction" to ensure the central bank takes greater account of the needs of minorities and lower-income earners, Fed Up co-director Shawn Sebastian said. "We are thrilled that someone with Bostic's background and experience will have a voice at the country's foremost economic policymaking institution," he said.
Mr. Bostic has sizable shoes to fill at the Atlanta Fed. While Mr. Lockhart wasn't an economist by training, he rose to become a closely watched voice on monetary-policy issues and his views were often seen to represent the consensus of what his colleagues were thinking about interest rates and the economy. Mr. Lockhart, a former banker, was also well-attuned to financial-market developments, and was viewed as being pragmatic in his thinking.
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The Atlanta Fed's chairman of the board of directors, Thomas Fanning, said Mr. Bostic "is a seasoned and versatile leader, bringing with him a wealth of experience in public policy and academia." He added: "Raphael also has significant experience leading complex organizations and managing interdisciplinary teams. He is a perfect bridge between people and policy."
From 2009 to 2012, Mr. Bostic served as an assistant secretary for policy development and research at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, a position that required Senate confirmation. He has been at USC since 2001 and is chair of the department on governance, management and the policy process at the Sol Price School of Public Policy.
He also previously worked at the Fed from 1995 to 2001 as an economist in the monetary and financial studies section, the Atlanta Fed said.
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(END) Dow Jones Newswires