Lael Brainard

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Lael Brainard
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Occupation Member
Employer Federal Reserve Board of Governors

Lael Brainard is an American economist who has been a member of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors since 2014. On November 22, 2021 the White House said President Biden would nominate her as vice chair of the central bank’s board of governors.

She was the United States Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs in the administration of President Barack Obama.[1]

Brainard is the author of articles on the effects of offshore production on domestic manufacturing employment, multinational production and its relationship to trade, strategic trade policy, the debate over structural vs. cyclical unemployment, declining industries, and small business lending in Africa.

As one of seven Federal Reserve governors, Brainard has often been the outlier, objecting to otherwise unanimous motions at the board to lighten financial regulations. Until her first objection in 2018, no governor had dissented since 2011. She has also pressed the case for a digital dollar and is seen as favoring financial innovation such as cryptocurrency.[2]

She is currently the only Democrat on the Fed's board.


Before becoming U.S. Under Secretary of the Treasury, Brainard was vice president and founding director of the Global Economy and Development Program at the Brookings Institution, where she held the Bernard L. Schwartz Chair in International Economics and directed the Brookings Initiative on Competitiveness.

Previously, Brainard was an associate professor of Applied Economics at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Sloan School of Management. Brainard also worked at McKinsey & Co. and separately on microfinance in West Africa.[3]


Brainard received master's and doctoral degrees in Economics from Harvard University, where she was a National Science Foundation Fellow. She graduated with highest honors from Wesleyan University. She is also the recipient of a White House Fellowship and a Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellowship.