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| Building a National Campaign for a Strong Economy: Fed Up
Published By:St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Activists invite St. Louis Fed president on north St. Louis bus tour

Activists with a group pushing for changes at the Federal Reserve asked St. Louis Fed President James Bullard to accompany them on a bus tour of some of the poorest communities in St. Louis.

About a dozen activists delivered an invitation for the tour to a St. Louis Fed official at the regional Fed headquarters downtown. An equivalent number of police watched.

“You’re very removed when you’re in that rarified air of the Federal Reserve,” said organizer Derek Laney.

The group is affiliated with the national Fed Up campaign, which is pushing for more diversity on regional Fed boards and wants the Fed to put more emphasis on keeping unemployment low rather than controlling inflation. Laney is affiliated with Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment, a local activist group that speaks out on issues such as policing and coal companies.

The activists’ demonstration coincided with the Fed’s Open Market Committee meeting Wednesday, where Fed officials decided, as expected, to again hold off raising its benchmark interest rate.

Still, some expect the Fed could signal another small rate hike at the end of the year, similar to a small increase in December 2015 that was the first hike in almost 10 years.

Even discussing an increase will still affect market interest rates and economic growth — an unnecessary move while many people are still trying to benefit from the tepid economic recovery, said Nick Apperson, an executive from downtown tech firm LockerDome who participated in the demonstration.

“While it’s likely they’re not raising interest rates in this meeting, … they’re hinting that they’re going to, which will have a similar effect,” he said.

Laney said the group also wanted to call attention to comments Bullard made last month at the annual conference attended by Fed officials and other top central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyo. Fed Up activists attended the event to speak with officials, and during an interview with CNBC, Bullard said that one of the group’s funders, Facebook co-founder, Dustin Moskovitz, should have come in person rather than sending “all these people.”

“If Bullard wants to walk back those comments he made at Jackson Hole, he needs to walk our streets and talk to our folks,” Laney said.

By Jacob Barker