Person

Lisa Cook

Nationality:

American

Occupation:

Economist

Lisa Cook is a left-of-center economist. She is a professor of economics at Michigan State University and a professor of international relations at James Madison College. She also sits on the board of directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. Cook has an extensive track record of working under Democratic Party politicians: she helped the Obama-Biden transition team review Treasury Department policy in 2008, then joined the Obama administration as a member of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers. More recently, she was a member of the Biden-Harris transition team, helping the incoming administration review the Federal Reserve, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and other federal agencies overseeing fiscal and monetary policy. [1]

In January 2022, the Biden administration announced that President Joe Biden had nominated Cook to the board of governors of the Federal Reserve, the governing body overseeing monetary policy and banks. [2] The administration’s decision received widespread criticism from right-of-center economists and commentators, who cited her alleged lack of experience in monetary policy and her perceived intent to impose left-of-center race-based policies on the Federal Reserve or the financial system itself. Some observers criticized what they described as embellishments that Cook had made to her resume. [3] In response, left-of-center commentators accused Cook’s critics of being racist. [4]

The Biden administration had previously indicated that it had selected Cook at least partly on the basis of race, claiming that race-specific appointments to the Federal Reserve board were “long overdue” and that having more members of minority groups in government positions “results in better outcomes for all Americans.” The administration also cited the fact that appointing Cook would result in a majority-female Federal Reserve board as a reason for nominating her. [5]

Education and Career

Lisa Cook received a bachelor’s degree in philosophy, politics, and economics from Oxford University and a doctorate in macro- and international economics from the University of California, Berkeley. Her early academic work included teaching and research at Harvard University, as well as research at Stanford University. In 2005, Cook joined the faculty of Michigan State University, where she has taught since then. [6]  

Cook promotes left-progressive economic policies such as raising the minimum wage. In 2019 she endorsed the idea of raising it as high as $22 an hour, claiming that allowing the government to determine wages for employers “doesn’t affect or raise unemployment.” [7] Cook has also advocated for requiring the United States Patent and Trademark Office to collect demographic data with the end goal of issuing more patents to members of minority groups. [8]

Obama and Biden Administrations

Cook was a member of President Barack Obama’s transition team in 2008. The Obama administration appointed her to the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, where her focus areas included financial instruments, innovation, and entrepreneurship, as well as the European Union economy. Following the election of President Joe Biden in November 2020, Cook once again worked with the incoming administration on economic policy review. [9]

Nomination to Federal Reserve Board

The Biden administration’s decision to nominate Cook to the board of governors of the Federal Reserve in January 2022 prompted widespread praise from left-of-center politicians and observers, as well as criticism from right-of-center economists. Darrick Hamilton, an economics professor at the New School, claimed that Cook would bring “innovation” to the Federal Reserve and use it to successfully control prices. U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) called criticism of Cook “racist” and “sexist.” [10]

Economist and former Trump administration official Peter Navarro called Cook unqualified and accused the Biden administration of making “race-based appointments.” [11] John Cochrane, an economist at the Hoover Institution, claimed that while Cook’s academic writing was “extensive,” her experience with monetary policy was “essentially nothing.” Economics professor Christopher Hartwell called Cook “a great person,” but said that she “never really was a monetary economist. An investigation by the Daily Caller also found that Cook’s personal website falsely claimed that a paper she had written for the American Economic Review, an academic journal, had been peer-reviewed. According to the Caller, the paper had appeared in a related publication that was not peer-reviewed, and Cook’s website was updated around the time of her Federal Reserve board nomination to remove the “peer-reviewed” claim. [12]

References

  1. Kim Ward. “MSU’s Lisa Cook to become first Black woman on Federal Reserve board.” Michigan State University. January 14, 2022. Accessed January 29, 2022. https://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2022/lisa-cook-appointed-to-fed ^
  2. “President Biden Nominates Sarah Bloom Raskin to Serve as Vice Chair for Supervision of the Federal Reserve, and Lisa Cook and Philip Jefferson to Serve as Governors.” White House. January 14, 2022. Accessed January 29, 2022. https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2022/01/14/president-biden-nominates-sarah-bloom-raskin-to-serve-as-vice-chair-for-supervision-of-the-federal-reserve-and-lisa-cook-and-philip-jefferson-to-serve-as-governors/ ^
  3. Chris Brunet. “Biden’s Fed Nominee Lisa Cook Criticized For Being Unqualified, Embellishing Resume.” Daily Caller. January 20, 2022. Accessed January 29, 2022.

    https://dailycaller.com/2022/01/20/bidens-fed-nominee-lisa-cook-criticized-for-being-unqualified-embellishing-resume/ ^

  4. Aisha Powell. “Biden’s Federal Reserve nominee Lisa Cook facing racist smears.” The Grio. January 29, 2022. Accessed January 29, 2022. https://news.yahoo.com/biden-federal-nominee-lisa-cook-200000013.html ^
  5. “President Biden Nominates Sarah Bloom Raskin to Serve as Vice Chair for Supervision of the Federal Reserve, and Lisa Cook and Philip Jefferson to Serve as Governors.” White House. January 14, 2022. Accessed January 29, 2022. https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2022/01/14/president-biden-nominates-sarah-bloom-raskin-to-serve-as-vice-chair-for-supervision-of-the-federal-reserve-and-lisa-cook-and-philip-jefferson-to-serve-as-governors/ ^
  6. Kim Ward. “MSU’s Lisa Cook to become first Black woman on Federal Reserve board.” Michigan State University. January 14, 2022. Accessed January 29, 2022. https://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2022/lisa-cook-appointed-to-fed ^
  7. Justin P. Hicks. “Raising minimum wage strikes controversy during monthly public forum at Jackson District Library.” Mlive. December 15, 2013. Accessed January 29, 2022.

    https://www.mlive.com/news/jackson/2013/12/raising_minimum_wage_strikes_c.html ^

  8. Bianca Flowers. “Lack of diversity in patent holders means ‘half of the population’ isn’t getting needs met, economist Lisa Cook says.” MarketWatch. August 20, 2021. Accessed January 29, 2022.

    https://www.marketwatch.com/story/lack-of-diversity-in-patent-holders-means-half-of-the-population-isnt-getting-needs-met-economist-lisa-cook-says-11629411589 ^

  9. Kim Ward. “MSU’s Lisa Cook to become first Black woman on Federal Reserve board.” Michigan State University. January 14, 2022. Accessed January 29, 2022. https://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2022/lisa-cook-appointed-to-fed ^
  10. Aisha Powell. “Biden’s Federal Reserve nominee Lisa Cook facing racist smears.” The Grio. January 29, 2022. Accessed January 29, 2022.mhttps://news.yahoo.com/biden-federal-nominee-lisa-cook-200000013.html ^
  11. Aisha Powell. “Biden’s Federal Reserve nominee Lisa Cook facing racist smears.” The Grio. January 29, 2022. Accessed January 29, 2022. https://news.yahoo.com/biden-federal-nominee-lisa-cook-200000013.html [note] Aisha Powell. “Biden’s Federal Reserve nominee Lisa Cook facing racist smears.” The Grio. January 29, 2022. Accessed January 29, 2022. https://news.yahoo.com/biden-federal-nominee-lisa-cook-200000013.html ^
  12. Chris Brunet. “Biden’s Fed Nominee Lisa Cook Criticized For Being Unqualified, Embellishing Resume.” Daily Caller. January 20, 2022. Accessed January 29, 2022. https://dailycaller.com/2022/01/20/bidens-fed-nominee-lisa-cook-criticized-for-being-unqualified-embellishing-resume/ ^
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