Another face familiar to the Yale community is poised to join the highest echelons of the federal government.
U.S. President Donald Trump nominated Jean Nellie Liang, a Brookings Institution economist and lecturer in the School of Management, to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors last week. If confirmed by the Senate, she will be eligible to serve a 14-year term. In interviews with the News, Liang’s colleagues praised her ability as an economist.
“I think it’s a terrific pick. Nellie is very good,” said William English, a professor at the School of Management. “She has good skills as an economist.”
Liang, who worked closely with English at the Federal Reserve, has a decadeslong career researching financial stability and credit markets. She headed up the central bank’s Division of Financial Stability from 2010 to 2017. Since leaving the Division, Liang has taken up a senior fellowship at Brookings and taught a course on macroprudential policy at the School of Management. English said that Liang’s specialization in financial stability will benefit the Board of Governors.
While the confirmation process is underway, Liang has maintained a policy of not responding to questions from the press. Liang could not be reached for comment.
Andrew Metrick, the director of the Program on Financial Stability at the SOM, likewise spoke highly of Liang, praising her abilities both as an economist and as an instructor.
“Nellie Liang is a terrific choice as Governor of the Federal Reserve,” said Metrick, who is a professor of finance and management. “She is among the leading experts in the world on financial-stability policy, and brings deep experience from her decades on staff at the Board. She was an excellent teacher at SOM last year on these topics and we will miss her, but the nation will benefit if she is confirmed.”
Though the President appoints board members, the Federal Reserve is an independent agency of the federal government, authorized directly by an act of Congress. The executive branch has little authority over its operations, and members of the Board can only be removed through a congressional impeachment process.
In the past few months, this independence has led to tensions between the Trump administration and the bank. On Sept. 26, Jerome Powell, chairman of the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors, described a “rising chorus of concerns” from American businesses about the administration’s tariff schedule and emphasized that the central bank does not consider politics in its ultimate decisions.
The president has repeatedly criticized the central bank, yesterday saying that he was “not happy” following the bank’s decision to raise interest rates again. In an interview with Reuters in August Trump said he was “not thrilled” with his nominee’s push to raise rates.
The comments were the latest evidence of bad blood between the economic regulator and the administration in power. This relationship has soured in spite of three of the four current members of the board being Trump nominees.
Politico reported on Monday that Powell had been working to support Liang’s nomination behind the scenes, reaching out to Republican senators — some of whom were skeptical about the economist. Some members of the Senate Banking Committee, which is charged with approving nominees for consideration by the full Senate, have expressed doubts about Liang’s nomination.
Liang will not be the only person with a Yale connection on the board. Randal Quarles LAW ’84 serves on the board in the newly created role of vice chair for supervision. Richard Clarida, former assistant secretary of the treasury for economic policy and the current vice chairman, was a member at the Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics at Yale in the 1980s.
Trump has tapped several Yalies to serve in high posts in the federal government, including Steven Mnuchin ’85, the secretary of the treasury; Ben Carson ’73, the secretary of housing and urban development; Wilbur Ross ’59, the secretary of commerce; Alex Azar LAW ’91, the secretary of health and human services; Christopher Wray ’89 LAW ’92, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and John Bolton ’70 LAW ’74, the national security adviser.
Keshav Raghavan | email@example.com