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Opinion
Narayana Kocherlakota

How Structural Racism Has Shaped the Fed’s Leadership

Black candidates face higher hurdles to get the top jobs.

Too rare.

Too rare.

Photographer: Win McNamee/Getty Images

One manifestation of structural racism in America is that Black people must achieve vastly superior qualifications to obtain leadership roles. Sadly, the U.S. Federal Reserve is no exception.

Consider the Fed’s governors, the people who set policy at the world’s most powerful central bank. In more than a century, only three have been Black: Andrew Brimmer, Emmett Rice, and Roger Ferguson. Their qualifications were extraordinary. Brimmer received an MA in economics from the University of Washington, and a PhD in economics from Harvard University. Rice had an MBA from the City College of New York, and a PhD in economics from Berkeley. Ferguson had an economics PhD and a law degree, both from Harvard. All had rich career experiences that provided a strong foundation for their complex Fed leadership jobs.