New Richmond Fed President A Study In Trumpian Diversity

On the surface, he looks like everyone else at the Fed, but dig a little deeper….
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This long-time Richmond resident approves. By Billy Hathorn (Mounument Avenue, Richmond, Virginia) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

This long-time Richmond resident approves. By Billy Hathorn (Mounument Avenue, Richmond, Virginia) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

When Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker resigned three years too late on account of his loose lips, the regional bank knew it had a golden opportunity to add a little diversity to the central one, whose upper echelons are frankly a little pasty and penis-having, and are only becoming more so under President Grab’em-By-The-Pussy. It even said so, claiming to be scouring the states of Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia, plus the District of Columbia, for someone with a strong background in economics, finance and information technology, who might also qualify as diverse, presumably to join the two non-white dudes and four-going-on-three white non-dudes currently serving as a regional Fed president or Fed governor.

Now, if you employ so narrow a definition of diverse, then the Richmond Fed failed: Thomas Barkin is a white dude who went to Harvard and who has been a top executive at a major company for years. But if you look inside, at what really matters, you see they actually and brilliantly succeeded: Barkin's never worked for either the Richmond Fed (having previously served as chairman of the Atlanta Fed’s board) or Goldman Sachs (he’s been at McKinsey forever). And he’s not really an economist, either, so he checks the Trumpian box for “potentially unqualified for the position.” All in all, he's the perfect sop to the diversity police in 2017, even if they don't know it.

“They spent a whole year doing a search, and they came up with somebody who doesn’t seem to meet their stated criteria or bring diversity,” said Julia Coronado, founder of MacroPolicy Perspectives LLC, a New York economics advisory firm. “I don’t know how long [the Fed] can keep talking about diversity as a priority and not deliver….”

Mr. Barkin’s appointment breaks new ground in one way: He will be the first leader of the Richmond Fed who hasn’t worked for the bank since the institution was founded in 1914….

Mr. Barkin isn’t an academic and doesn’t have a published body of work that indicates how he will weigh in on key monetary policy debates facing the Fed over inflation, labor markets and interest rates.

Richmond Fed Selects McKinsey Executive Thomas Barkin as President [WSJ]

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