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  • Writer's pictureMatias A. Sifontes Sanchez

Lael Brainard – Making the centre hold

Updated: Nov 29, 2020

Lael Brainard may be your favourite economic advisor’s economic advisor. Now, she is the top contender for Biden’s Secretary of Treasury.

Brainard’s CV is unlike any other, with ample experience in top government positions and an outstanding reputation among both political parties. If confirmed by the Senate, she would become the first woman to hold the position since its conception in 1789.

After a successful start to her career at McKinsey, she served as the deputy national economic adviser and deputy assistant to President Clinton’s economic team. Following President’s Obama’s election, Lael Brainard became the Treasury’s Under Secretary for International Affairs in 2009. She gained a reputation as a fierce negotiator by convincing European states to boost their spending to reign in the sovereign debt crisis.

Additionally, she was in charge of intricate economic relations with China, attempting to pressure Beijing to allow market forces to guide the yuan. However, critics from both parties have raised concerns that Brainard was too soft on China for not labelling the country as a currency manipulator during her time in office.

In 2014, Brainard left the White House after being appointed to the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors. Since then, she has become the only democrat on the board and has been in many cases the sole resistance against the Fed’s recent deregulatory trend.

Gov. Brainard has taken a tougher stance on financial regulation and has publicly opposed the changes implemented by the board multiple times in her dissent. Brainard is a lonesome figure in America’s political circus. She prefers to keep a low media-profile, even refusing to be interviewed for her latest profile at the New York Times. Instead, she chooses the topics and her opportunities to speak wisely. Brainard’s statements on climate change have been instrumental in moving the Fed to include an assessment of climate change risks to financial stability for the first time in their latest report.

Nevertheless, her methodical and data-based approach commands the respect of her colleagues despite their disagreements on particular topics. James H. Powell, the Fed’s Chair appointed by President Trump, placed Brainard in a central role in the Fed’s emergency lending programs during the pandemic. Despite her stance on regulation, Brainard’s value as an economist is recognized across the board and her experience makes her an attractive candidate for republicans, especially compared to more progressive contenders like Elizabeth Warren.

Her impressive resumé as an experienced economic advisor during economic crises and her renowned abilities as a negotiator make Gov. Brainard the top economist Biden needs to implement his ambitious economic plan. Most recently, Gov. Brainard called for Congress and the White House to increase the fiscal response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, she expressed the Fed’s commitment to maintain rates low until inflation was expected to exceed the target for a sustained amount of time.

Although other candidates have been speculated about, Brainard remains the favourite candidate in the eyes of many. Gov. Brainard has been characterized as a centrist and her appointment could help to placate any fears from both sides raised by Biden’s approach to economic policy.

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