Richmond Fed names McKinsey's Thomas Barkin as its next president

  • Richmond Fed names Thomas Barkin, a McKinsey partner, to be its next president.
  • Barkin has a background in “helping financial institutions,” according to his McKinsey bio.
  • Community activists criticise the Richmond Fed for failing to embrace a more diverse, less industry-friendly appointment.
  • The post has been open since April, when Jeffrey Lacker resigned due to a leak scandal.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond has named Tom Barkin, a partner at the consulting giant McKinsey & Company, as its next president.

The decision comes after months of uncertainty following the sudden resignation of Jeffrey Lacker, forced to step down after he admitted to playing a role in a controversial leak of information on private Fed deliberations that led to a criminal investigation.

According to his McKinsey bio, Barkin’s “primary client focus is helping financial institutions and travel and transportation companies.”

This invites renewed criticism of the Fed about its proximity to the bankers it is supposed to regulate. Barkin is apparently already a vice chairman of the Atlanta Fed, his McKinsey bio adds.

Activists from Fed Up, a coalition of community groups trying to highlight the plight of the poor in the context of Fed policy, said in a statement they are “deeply disappointed that the board of directors at the Richmond Federal Reserve Bank failed to select a diverse candidate with demonstrated independence from the financial sector.

“In choosing Thomas Barkin to lead the Richmond Federal Reserve, the Richmond Fed’s board ignored the voices of our coalition, over 12,000 petition signers, numerous congressional representatives, and dozens of local elected officials from the fifth Federal Reserve district who had urged a transparent, publicly inclusive process resulting in the selection of a candidate who reflects the Richmond region’s racial and economic diversity,” Fed Up co-director Shawn Sebastian said.

In April, Lacker stepped down after admitting he had confirmed details of a Fed meeting to Medley Global Advisors, a consulting firm. His resignation raised questions about another potential leaker, but the investigation has recently been concluded without anyone else being named.

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