Fed’s Raskin is chosen for deputy Treasury secretary

July 31, 2013

The White House announced Wednesday that it will nominate Federal Reserve Governor Sarah Bloom Raskin to fill the No. 2 post at the Treasury Department, a move that would make her the highest-ranking woman in the agency’s history.

In a statement, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew cited Raskin’s deep experience in financial regulation and oversight of the Fed’s sprawling organizational structure as driving the pick.

“Sarah has demonstrated a strong commitment to protecting consumers,” Lew said. “She shares my conviction to do everything possible to increase job creation, accelerate economic growth, and strengthen the middle class.”

Raskin joined the Fed in 2010 after spending three years as Maryland’s commissioner of financial regulation. She was particularly focused on consumer issues, including overseeing the Fed’s review of foreclosure practices. She also often spoke on untraditional issues such as the role of inequality in economic growth.

“It’s going to be a loss for those who are looking for the Fed to be more mindful of consumer issues and consumer needs,” said John Taylor, president of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition.

Raskin’s departure also creates more upheaval at the central bank. The Obama administration has been weighing a short-list of candidates to take over as Fed chairman once Ben S. Bernanke’s term expires next year. But the number of potential vacancies at the central bank gives the administration a rare opportunity to dramatically reshape one of the nation’s most influential institutions.

The Fed’s seven-member board of governors helps steer the country’s economy, and as many as five of those seats could be empty next year. In addition to Raskin’s and Bernanke’s pending departures, Fed Governor Elizabeth A. Duke has said she is leaving at the end of August.

Fed Governor Jerome H. Powell’s term also ends in January, although he could continue to serve if no replacement is named. Fed Vice Chair Janet L. Yellen is on the short-­list for the top job, and it is unclear whether she would stay, or for how long, if she is not chosen.

Although Raskin’s appointment would make history at Treasury, her move could also raise questions about diversity at the Fed: Two of the three women on the board are leaving, and Yellen’s potential nomination for chair has become steeped in gender politics. No woman has ever been at the helm of the Fed.

Raskin’s nomination must still be confirmed by the Senate. She was unanimously confirmed when she was nominated to the Fed.

Ylan Q. Mui is a financial reporter at The Washington Post covering the Federal Reserve and the economy.
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