Activists ask Fed chief to focus on people`s struggles

 In a rarity for a US central bank chief, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen met on Friday with activist groups calling for a fairer economic recovery and a more transparent Fed.

AFP| Last Updated: Nov 15, 2014, 04:36 AM IST

Washington: In a rarity for a US central bank chief, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen met on Friday with activist groups calling for a fairer economic recovery and a more transparent Fed.

About 20 representatives of community and labor organizations met with Yellen for an hour in the meeting room of the policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee, the activists said.

The groups were banded together as "Fed Up: The National Campaign for a Strong Economy", lobbying Yellen and her team to orient Fed policy to boost employment and wages.

In addition to Yellen, Fed Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer and board members Lael Brainard and Jerome Powell participated in the meeting.

"We had a very good conversation," said Ady Barkan, representing the Center for Popular Democracy.

The activists presented their views about conditions in the economy to the Fed officials and "they listened very carefully," Barkan said.

Yellen "asked people questions about their personal experiences in the economy," he added.

The coalition gave the Fed officials a list of six proposals to make the central bank more transparent and democratic.

"The economy is not working for the vast majority of people," Barkan said. 

"The Federal Reserve has huge influence over the number of people who have jobs, over our wages... and yet we don`t have discussion and engagement over what Fed policy should be."

Wearing T-shirts emblazoned with "What recovery?", the activists criticized the Fed`s isolation from the general public.

"Our wages are on a flat line for 30 years," said Anthony Newby, director of Minnesota Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, which wants the Fed to give interest-free loans to cities so they can create jobs in infrastructure projects.

With two regional Fed bank presidents preparing to step down -- Charles Plosser for the Philadelphia Fed and Richard Fisher at the Dallas Fed -- the coalition is pressing for a transparent process for selecting their successors.

The Philadelphia Fed said on its website Friday that the executive search firm it hired has set up an email address to receive inquiries in the interest of helping the bank "in a broad search for its next president."

"Philadelphia has hovered around eight percent unemployment for all of 2014; in the black community it`s over 14 percent," said Kati Sipp, head of Pennsylvania Working Families and a "Fed Up" activist.

"We want the Fed to spend some time in the neighborhoods where regular working people live."