Economist Austan Goolsbee Is Named to Lead the Chicago Fed

The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago said on Thursday that Austan D. Goolsbee will become its next president, taking a seat at the central bank’s policy-setting table as officials work to bring down the fastest inflation in decades.

Mr. Goolsbee, who was a member and later chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers during the Obama administration between 2009 and 2011, has long been a faculty member at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. He has a doctorate in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and studied for his undergraduate degree at Yale.

He will replace Charles Evans, who has been in the role since 2007 and at the Chicago Fed since 1991 and is retiring.

The Chicago Fed district is made up of Iowa and most of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin. The Fed’s 12 presidents oversee large staffs of researchers and bank supervisors and vote on monetary policy on a rotating basis.

Mr. Goolsbee will vote on policy in 2023, meaning that he will be an important voice at the table as the Fed continues its effort to wrangle rapid inflation and tries to decide just how aggressive a policy response that will require. He is expected to start on Jan. 9.

“These have been challenging, unprecedented times for the economy,” Mr. Goolsbee said in the statement from the Chicago Fed announcing the decision. “The bank has an important role to play.”

Mr. Goolsbee warned in an opinion column last year that using past economic experiences to understand pandemic-era inflation and labor market changes would be a mistake.

“Past business cycles look nothing like what the United States has gone through in the pandemic,” he wrote. “The most interesting questions aren’t really about recession and recovery. They center on whether any of the pandemic changes will last.”

He also participates in surveys of economic experts carried out by the Chicago Booth Initiative on Global Markets, which offers a snapshot of some of his thoughts on relevant topics including inflation and the growing divide between the rich and the poor. Early this year, he noted that corporate profit margins have increased — a sign that companies are increasing prices by more than their costs are climbing — but said that they had not shot up enough to explain inflation. In response to a question about whether price controls could be used to contain prices, he wrote: “Just stop. Seriously.”

In another Booth poll, asked if “the increasing share of income and wealth among the richest Americans is a major threat to capitalism,” he responded: “Duh.”

While many economists responded to Mr. Goolsbee’s appointment positively, there was some backlash. Senator Bob Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey, has been pushing the Fed to appoint Latino leaders. He said the selection process — which is run by the local business and nonprofit leaders who sit on a regional bank’s board — is antiquated and opaque.

The result risks “perpetuating a legacy that has shut out Latinos from the upper echelons of leadership at the Fed,” Mr. Menendez said in a statement.

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