Transcript: October 18, 2020, Atlanta Fed Rafael Bostik on “Face the Nation”

The following is a record of an interview with the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, Rafael Bostik, which aired on “Face the Nation” on Sunday, October 11, 2020.

Margaret Brennan: We look to the President of the Atlanta Reserve System. That is Rafael Bostik. He will join us from Atlanta this morning. Good morning.

Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta President Rafael Bostik: Good morning, Margaret.

Margaret Brennan: Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal said in a front-page article pointing to the southern part of the country you’re looking at most carefully, it’s almost economically intact by a pandemic. The unemployment rate is 6.9%, the lowest in any region as of August. Do these numbers prove the political decision that the Governor of the South is willing to go ahead and resume against the advice of health officials?

BOSTIC: Um, Margaret, I don’t know if I’ll prove it. As Dr. Gottlieb said, we are still in the midst of this crisis. And one of the reasons I think the South has benefited is that the virus came to us after it invaded California and New York on the west coast. So I had to learn a few things about how viruses can be used to operate and make money. And I think it turned out to be very helpful.

Margaret Brennan: There is an important caveat. Especially when I look at Atlanta, I know that a recent interview points out that the level of eviction is higher than it was a year ago. What of the indicators you’re looking at aren’t optimistic and worrisome, as the White House draws us on a clear upward trajectory?

BOSTIC: Well, I’m definitely worried. As I go around and talk to people and businesses in the district, I see two real stories happening. In some segments, the economy is recovering and recovering very well. But in hotels and restaurants, especially in other segments such as minorities and small businesses in low-income communities, these places face much more difficult situations. Now, graphing this, after the significant declines seen in March and April, the recovery looks like this, with many sectors rising. This is what I call the lesser sign. Also, in other cases, no recovery is seen.And the segment that doesn’t see that recovery is what I’m really concerned about as we move forward.

Margaret Brennan: The dismembered recovery is like you’re sketching there. There was one number I saw, you know, I read about this week that really stood out to me. And I want-I want to share it with you. And it depicts this picture that white-collar workers and working-class America are really different trajectories. According to the latest household pulse data, 7 to 11 million children in the country live in households where they did not eat enough because their families could not afford it. This is the wealthiest country in the world. The economy is said to be recovering. This doesn’t tell me it at all. What does this show you?

BOSTIC: First of all, we must recognize that the problem of food insecurity is a long-standing problem in this country. It’s not new, it’s not just the result of the virus. But what the virus did, it put a wedge in our economy. And for all those who were in more volatile situations, it made them even more volatile. So those who are suffering are much more suffering, but others are not feeling it at all. And I think it’s important to recognize that no matter what experience people have, there are many other Americans who are struggling and at the cutting edge. And that eviction data is just one example.

Margaret Brennan: African Americans have recovered just over one-third of the jobs they lost during this pandemic. This tells you what you are talking about in terms of different experiences. According to the Federal Reserve Board, only 34% of black households own shares. You have recently written and talked a lot about the growing inequality in this country. What do you need to do about it?

BOSTIC: First of all, we have to admit that there is a problem and we need to be happy to discuss it. As you know, my institution has long been willing to come forward to talk about the importance of racial inequality. Actually, I think it was a mistake. And what we see is that many of my colleagues jump up and are happy to talk about this. I think there are two sides to this in terms of what to do. One is that they need to change course across generations so that they are well educated, well trained, have real access to capital, and can progress like anyone else. That is. But today, many are taking advantage of this economy to join. Therefore, you need to make sure that you provide resources and infrastructure that will help these people as well.

Margaret Brennan: As you know, Joe Biden has asked the Fed to start reporting on racial disparities on a regular basis. Your name appeared in many reports this week as either the Treasury Secretary or the Federal Reserve Chairman as a potential member of the Biden administration. Is there a job you are interested in?

BOSTIC: Margaret, a lot of things are happening right now, so I’m not thinking about it. A pandemic has occurred. I am facing an economic crisis and I am worried about my bank in terms of the policies we are implementing. So I just let them act like they do and see how it goes.

Margaret Brennan: All right, that’s not no. Thank you-Thank you, Mr. Bostik. We will be back.

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