Mpls. Fed chief, activists talk about economic gap

Neel Kashkari, Minneapolis Fed president
Neel Kashkari, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, and Anthony Newby, the executive director of Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, speak with reporters Wednesday after meeting with residents of north Minneapolis.
Peter Cox | MPR News

The president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis met with activists and northside residents Wednesday over racial and economic disparities.

Neel Kashkari talked with leaders from Neighborhoods Organizing for Change for an hour — an unusual meeting of a banking insider and a group known for street demonstrations and putting political pressure on the powers that be.

"A big part of my job is to get out and understand first hand what is happening, what are the challenges," said Kashkari who has served on the central bank system since January.

In that time, the former head of the federal government's bank bailout program in 2008 has drawn attention for his warning that failure of some big banks could lead to another financial crisis.

Kashkari said that the Fed's monetary policy can have an effect on unemployment, interest rates and inflation, but he said Congress' fiscal policy will also be key in addressing racial disparities.

Anthony Newby, executive director of Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, said they talked about the high unemployment rate among African-Americans.

"Now we can spend more time collaborating, doing a deeper dive and figure out what are the structural barriers and then what can the Fed do to bridge that gap," Newby said. "That's a big deal and big starting point."

Newby added he was pleased to have someone in Kashkari's position listening to real people struggling to make ends meet.

Kashkari agreed to meet with them again.

MPR News is Reader Funded

Before you keep reading, take a moment to donate to MPR News. Your financial support ensures that factual and trusted news and context remain accessible to all.