June 17, 2020 / 4:57 PM / 24 days ago

Fed's Bostic says pandemic exacerbated structural inequalities

FILE PHOTO: Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta President Raphael Bostic participates in a panel discussion at the American Economic Association/Allied Social Science Association (ASSA) 2019 meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., January 4, 2019. REUTERS/Christopher Aluka Berry/File Photo

(Reuters) - The coronavirus pandemic is hitting minority communities harder than others and recent incidents of racial discrimination around the country have shed light on the moral and economic costs of racism, Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank President Raphael Bostic said Wednesday.

“The pandemic has hit lower-income and minority communities much harder than it has others and really exacerbated a lot of the structural inequalities that we had seen in this country,” Bostic said Wednesday during a virtual event with the Atlanta Consular Corps.

Bostic, the Fed’s only African-American policymaker, last week issued an impassioned call for an end to racism and laid out ways the U.S. central bank can help do so. The policymaker repeated some of those views Wednesday, saying the economy can grow more quickly when there is full participation.

“The cost of racism is not just on the moral dimension but it is also on the economic dimension and we need to acknowledge that,” Bostic said. “We’re going to continue to respond. I think the Fed is well positioned to be an agent in that.”

The economy is starting to rebound as people return to work, but the pace of the recovery will depend on how cautious consumers are about going out in public, Bostic said.

Some businesses in public-facing industries, including restaurants and hotels, are suffering, he said. A portion of the job losses will be temporary and people who can work remotely will be better off, he said.

“Willingness to take risk and the perception of risk will be important factors in determining how rapidly the economy will return,” he said.

Reporting by Jonnelle Marte; Editing by Franklin Paul and Jonathan Oatis

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