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    07.14.18 New President of the New York Federal Reserve Holds Town Hall Meeting at Brooklyn Law School
    Fed President Small

    Newly appointed Federal Reserve Bank of New York President John C. Williams capped off a day of meetings in Brooklyn with representatives of business, community development organizations, education institutions, and government on July 11 with a lively town hall at Brooklyn Law School. The event, moderated by Interim Dean Maryellen Fullerton, covered a wide range of topics from how to stave off the next financial crisis to the role of cryptocurrency in the modern economy. This town hall was part of the New York Fed’s ongoing effort to assess economic conditions in the Federal Reserve’s Second District.

    Fullerton kicked off the Q&A-style discussion asking Williams’ observations about Brooklyn and its significant immigrant community—40 percent of the population are foreign-born, and 50 percent of the borough’s entrepreneurs are immigrants.

    “Be it here, in D.C., the Bay area, or elsewhere, immigration is a key part of our economic success,” said Williams, who previously headed the Fed in San Francisco. He further credited the city’s “leading educational institutions” for much of this success, since scholars “around the world come here for education and innovative culture” and contribute to the city’s dynamism.

    The invitation-only crowd included local stakeholders as well as the Brooklyn Law School community.

    Professor David Reiss, founding director of the Community Development Clinic and Academic Programs Director of the Center for Urban Business Entrepreneurship (CUBE), asked Williams to address concerns about the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau “taking a dramatically different turn.” Williams agreed that “the CFPB was important and made a very good partner,” and said that in the aftermath of the foreclosure crisis, which was caused by “large scale abuse,” the Fed takes regulations and their enforcement very seriously.

    Responding to a question from Professor Neil B. Cohen, Jeffrey D. Forchelli Professor of Law, about whether the Fed’s law department would continue to be active in law reforms, such as lowering the cost of banking, Williams stressed that the agency would be closely involved with such efforts, particularly as “the financial services industry evolves over the years with fintech.”

    Professor Roberta Karmel, Centennial Professor of Law, questioned Williams about what she perceives as a dangerous amount of leverage in the market that may portend another financial crisis. While he assured the audience that the federal government has “powerful tools” such as the Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review and other stress tests to manage this, he did confess that what keeps him up at night is the knowledge that, when it comes to financial crises, “memories fade.”

    Williams also advocated for a long-term view of economic development, investing first in education at the earliest possible level—starting in pre-kindergarten, where “the economic gains are enormous”— and enabling the next generation to be “computer savvy, agile, adaptive, and able to reinvent themselves every 10 years.”

    “Bringing together best thinking and leveraging resources is what helps communities be as strong and vibrant as possible,” he said.