Biden’s Federal Reserve nominee Lisa Cook facing racist smears

Conservatives continue to attack the Ph.D. holding economist, claiming she is unqualified and a "race-based appointment" by President Biden

Lisa Cook, who is slated to become the first Black woman to serve on the Federal Reserve if confirmed by the Senate, is facing racist backlash from conservatives who say she isn’t qualified.

“Professor Cook is more qualified to coach an NFL team than manage what may be a looming collapse of our economy from a perch at the Fed,” said former Trump appointee Peter Navarro, who also accused Biden of making “race-based appointments.”

Cook, who was nominated by President Joe Biden in mid-January, holds a Ph.D. in economics, teaches economics and international relations at Michigan State University, and was recently named on the board of directors to the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

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Lisa Cook is a professor of economics and international relations at Michigan State University. (Photo courtesy of Lisa Cook)

“The attacks are racist, sexist and just plain dumb,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren to HuffPost, about the disparaging remarks on Cook.

If approved by the Senate, Cook will join the 7-member board of governors, who oversee the nation’s bank system and helps create policies to maintain financial stability.

Cook has an extensive history in both banking and economics.

After graduating with her doctorate in 1997, Cook became an assistant professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and Harvard’s business school, where she was also served as a Deputy Director for the Center for International Development.

She moved into government, becoming the Senior Advisor of Finance and Development at the U.S. Treasury Department, and later advised the Nigerian and Rwanda governments on banking reform and economic development. 

In 2011, she served as the Senior Economist in the Barack Obama administration, and in 2020, she volunteered to assist in Biden’s transition Agency Review Team for efforts related to the Federal Reserve.

Despite her robust background, conservatives say she is not the right fit for the job.

Lisa Cook, associate professor of economics and international relations at Michigan State University. (Credit: Lisa Cook/Federal Bank Reserve St. Louis).

“When that collapse comes, nobody in the financial world is going to say ‘Find Lisa Cook,’” continued Navarro to the right-wing news publication The Daily Caller. “Ultimately, this is not fair to Cook herself, as it sets her up for an epic fall.”

Another conservative said that Cook was, “one of the least qualified nominees in the Fed’s history.” 

Cooks’ use of intersectionality in her research on gender and racial inequalities on economic development also proved to be a sore spot for Republicans, who she is too “radical.”

However, others say her insight is exactly what the Federal Reserve needs.

“What makes this an outstanding choice is her insightful ability to link and integrate nuanced data and information to explain and address problems well beyond formulaic status-quo decision making ― this has been evident throughout her academic and professional life,” said Darrick Hamilton, a professor of economics and urban policy at The New School.

“If there is ever a time for innovation at the Fed, it is now … We need a Fed that can manage our price levels in a more just, humane and inclusive way; I am excited that Lisa Cook has chosen to do this,” he added.

The doubts about Cook come after Republicans uproar about Biden’s re-commitment to nominate a Black woman to the Supreme Court.

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