Fed Guv Lael Brainard, frontrunner for new US Treasury secretary, falls behind in race

Federal Reserve Board Governor Lael Brainard speaks at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S., March 1, 2017. REUTERS/Brian Snyder - RC13DCCCEED0

Washington: Fed Governor Lael Brainard has slipped from among top contenders for Treasury secretary under Joe Biden, according to people familiar with the matter, as the president-elect’s team winnows its choices for key positions.

Brainard, a favorite for the post before the election, has had little contact with Biden’s transition officials since he won, two of the people said. They asked not to be identified because Biden hasn’t announced a nominee.

The president-elect may yet make history by appointing a woman to lead the Treasury Department for the first time. Janet Yellen, the former Federal Reserve chair, would meet his description of a person acceptable to the entire party. Progressives support her in part because she has endorsed the idea of taxing carbon emissions to fight climate change.

Biden said Thursday that he had decided on a nominee but wouldn’t say who it is. However, he gave a clue, telling reporters that his choice “is someone who I think is, will be accepted by all elements of the Democratic Party, from the progressive to the moderate coalitions.”

Brainard is opposed by some liberal groups because of perceptions she defended the Obama administration’s conciliatory position toward China and hasn’t advocated for strong climate change policies while at the Fed.

Brainard declined to comment through a Fed spokesperson. Yellen also declined to comment.