The top reads of 2021
On the list: Rosengren retirement, digital dollar project, a look at the racial wealth gap
The pandemic was again the big story in New England and worldwide last year, but it was far from the only story at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. Our most popular articles covered topics including the retirement of our president, how our digital dollar project got its name, and what happens to the racial wealth gap when you use an expanded wealth measure. Check out our top reads from 2021 below, and please visit us often in 2022.
Summary: Boston Fed President and CEO Eric Rosengren moved up his retirement from June 2022 to September 2021. In a message to Bank staff, Rosengren revealed a worsening kidney condition and said he needed to make immediate changes to lower the risks of his condition.
Quote: “In addition to his monetary policy insights, Eric brought a relentless focus on how best to ensure the stability of the financial system.” – Jerome Powell, chair, Board of Governors, Federal Reserve System
Summary: The Boston Fed is partnering with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on “Project Hamilton,” which is exploring the feasibility of a hypothetical U.S.-backed digital currency platform. It’s reasonable to guess the name is a tribute to Alexander Hamilton, who laid the foundation for the Fed. But Alexander isn’t the only Hamilton being honored here.
Quote: “Looking back, we were the luckiest people in the world. There was no choice but to be pioneers.” – Margaret Hamilton, computer scientist, leader of the team that developed the software for the Apollo space program’s guidance system
Summary: A new initiative that aims to mobilize Maine residents to tackle tough statewide challenges took a major step forward when eight teams were chosen to receive $25,000 "design grants." The grants, part of the Boston Fed’s Working Communities Challenge, are initial funds and will help the teams develop strategies to take on local issues. The teams are hoping to be among the final five awarded three-year, $375,000 grants to implement their ideas.
Quote: “I think that every one of the applications that we received was addressing something really critical. It was obvious that their communities needed it.” – Lelia DeAndrade, Maine Community Foundation, member of the jury that selected the finalists
Summary: The Boston Fed had a majority-female board of directors for the first time ever in 2021. Jeanne Hulit and Lauren Smith joined the board as new members, meaning that five of its nine members – or 56% – are women
Quote: "What the board shows is that women are leading in areas that are vitally important to New England." – Board of Directors chair Christina Hull Paxson, president of Brown University
Summary: A paper published by the Boston Fed finds that when the measure of wealth includes two major retirement resources – defined benefit pension assets and Social Security wealth – wealth gaps between white families and Black and other minority families narrow substantially.
Quote: “This paper draws attention to the powerfully equalizing effects of policies that are already in place but typically not accounted for in analysis of racial disparities in wealth.” – Jeffrey Thompson, Alice Henriques Volz, co-authors, “A New Look at Racial Disparities Using a More Comprehensive Wealth Measure”
Summary: A study published by the Boston Fed finds that minority homeowners, particularly Black homeowners, fared worse than their white counterparts during the pandemic. The study finds that Black homeowners were much more likely to miss mortgage payments and much less likely to refinance to take advantage of very low interest rates.
Quote: “In effect, borrowers who could use the payment reductions the most moving forward may be the least likely to obtain them.” – Kristopher Gerardi, Lauren Lambie-Hanson, Paul Willen, co-authors, “Racial Differences in Mortgage Refinancing, Distress, and Housing Wealth Accumulation during COVID-19”