Atlanta Fed President: ‘There Are Definitely Merits To’ Reparations

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Michael Ginsberg Congressional Correspondent
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The president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta endorsed racial reparations as a redress to past legal harms.

“There are definitely merits to [reparations]. In the sense that people have been harmed by laws, then there should be discussions about redress,” Raphael Bostic told CNN.

Bostic, who served as Assistant Secretary of Policy Development and Research at the Department of Housing and Urban Development during the Obama administration, became the first African-American president of a Federal Reserve regional bank in 2017.

CNN Business’ Matt Egan interviewed Bostic on Monday to discuss job growth and and inequality in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Bostic noted that during the pandemic-related recession, unlike most recessions, “the job loss was very heavily-concentrated among lower-wage employers. If you look at the employment of the people in the top quarter of the income distribution, they lost 4% of their jobs. If you look at people in the bottom quarter, they lost 17% of their jobs.”

“It’s really exacerbated the inequalities that we’ve seen,” Bostic added.

Egan then pivoted to a discussion of the racial impact of the recession, asking what “racism does to the economy.”

“We are losing collectively their potential for productivity, we are losing their ideas and innovations, and that can translate into a smaller economy, a less resilient economy, and a less robust economy,” Bostic responded.

When asked about reparations, Bostic noted that the Atlanta Fed is hosting a webinar series focusing on racism in the economy. One of the speakers in the series, an Evanston, Illinois alderman, explained that her city will be instituting a reparations policy based off of past housing discrimination, Bostic noted.

During the 2020 Democratic presidential primaries, candidates Beto O’Rourke, Elizabeth Warren, and Kamala Harris endorsed reparations. President Joe Biden endorsed a study on reparations during a speech in South Carolina, saying, “let’s see where that takes us.” (RELATED: Obama Says He Believes Reparations Are Justified, But He Didn’t Pursue Because Of ‘White Resistance And Resentment’)

“If you demonstrate the harm, then the redress follows from that. In our system, I think that this is an interesting idea that many others should be thinking about as we move forward,” Bostic said.