President Joe Biden on Tuesday named Lael Brainard to head the National Economic Council, giving the Federal Reserve vice chair a prime White House position coordinating economic policymaking across the executive branch.
Brainard, 61, will take the top economic position in the White House at a time of high inflation, and her Fed departure will require Biden to find a replacement for her at the U.S. central bank who can win Senate approval.
“Lael, one of the country’s leading macroeconomists, brings an extraordinary depth of domestic and international economic expertise, having previously served at CEA, NEC, the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve. She is a trusted veteran across our economic institutions, and understands how the economy affects everyday people,” said Biden in a statement.
Brainard has been mentioned as a contender for the NEC job since late January, and economics analysts have said the position would allow her to work on climate policy — and that it could serve as a “precursor” to her being tapped to lead the Treasury Department or the Fed.
The NEC was created in 1993 and has had several high-profile directors whose names are familiar to close observers of markets
and the economy. Robert Rubin, who would later serve as President Bill Clinton’s treasury secretary, was the council’s first director.
Part of the Executive Office of the President, the NEC advises presidents on U.S. and global economic policy. The director serves as a kind of gatekeeper, bringing together all economic-policy decisions facing an administration.
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