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Obama Names Three to the Federal Reserve Board

This morning, President Obama named three people to the board of the Federal Reserve: Janet Yellen to be vice chairman, and Peter Diamond and Sarah Bloom Raskin to be general members of the seven-person board.

Yellen is the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Diamond is an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Raskin is Maryland’s state banks regulator. The nominations were first floated in March. All three picks are widely respected in economic circles, particularly among liberals.

Yellen is known as an inflation dove — a believer that the risk of inflation remains low and therefore the Federal Reserve should maintain interest rates at scratch to help the economy grow. She also tends to have more employment-centric views than other Fed economists. For instance, earlier this month, she said, “Even as we applaud the economic turnaround, it’s important not to lose sight of just how fragile this recovery is and how far we yet have to go before things return to normal.” Diamond is a highly respected liberal academic economist. And Raskin is known as a strong banking regulator, taking a hard line against mortgage fraud, for instance.

But why did Obama pick Raskin rather than another economist? And if the Federal Open Markets Committee sets the interest rate, what does the Fed board do?

The board is meant to contain a “fair representation of the financial, agricultural, industrial, and commercial interests and geographical divisions of the country,” hence the pick of Raskin from the regulatory, rather than academic, economic world. It does not move the interest rate, true, but the board helps to coordinate the Fed’s monetary policy, supervise banks, aid the credit markets, keep a general eye on the economy, coordinate the 12 regional banks, conduct research, maintain financial stability and oversee systemic risk.

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