Fed’s Kashkari to Spend Day in Life of Struggling Black Family

  • Poverty level among blacks is twice the rate of whites in U.S.
  • Central bank must work to improve diversity, Kashkari says

Neel Kashkari tried living on streets for a week during his failed run for California governor in 2014. Now, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis will spend a day in the life of a black family barely making ends meet.

“Walking a day in somebody else’s shoes is actually -- it makes the anecdotes that much more real,” Kashkari, 43, told reporters Wednesday in Minneapolis after a meeting with the local community to discuss race and economic inequality. “It influences how I think about the problems we face.”

Kashkari, a former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. executive who went on to oversee the U.S. government’s $700 billion financial rescue program, took the helm of the Minneapolis Fed in January.

National poverty levels among blacks stand at 26 percent, more than double those for whites. Fed Chair Janet Yellen has discussed inequality and the fact that minorities have higher unemployment than whites in speeches and testimony to Congress.

Outrage has mounted in the U.S. over a recent spate of fatal shootings of black men by police, some of which were filmed and broadcast over social media, worsening racial tensions in many communities.

On Wednesday, Kashkari, whose parents emigrated to the U.S. from India, heard Rosheeda Credit describe how she and her boyfriend worked three jobs between them to support their family. She then invited him to find out himself what it was like by spending the day with her.

Kashkari said he’d be “happy to do it.”

The Fed has also been under fire from Democrats, including presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, for a lack of diversity on the boards of directors on the 12 regional Fed banks. Kashkari said the central bank had a lot of work to do to improve diversity and was committed to making that happen.

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