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Senate Confirms Nellie Liang to Top Treasury Post for Managing U.S. Debt

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By Mitch Phillips Reuters Posted July 25, 2021 7:56 pm Smaller font Descrease article font size -A Larger font Increase article font size A+

Nellie Liang will manage the federal debt at a time when the Biden administration is proposing trillions of dollars in new spending.



Photo:

Rod Lamkey – Cnp/Zuma Press

WASHINGTON—The Senate confirmed former Federal Reserve economist Nellie Liang as the Treasury Department’s undersecretary for domestic finance, putting her at the forefront of efforts to manage the soaring federal debt.

Ms. Liang, who specialized in financial stability issues at the Fed, was confirmed by a vote of 72-27. She will  oversee U.S. fiscal policy at a time when the Biden administration is proposing trillions of dollars in new spending on infrastructure and antipoverty programs.

Nellie Liang and the Mounting Federal Debt

The Congressional Budget Office projects a budget deficit of $3 trillion this fiscal year—more than it forecast in February, but less than the $3.2 trillion deficit in fiscal year 2020. The non-partisan agency expects the federal debt to grow to 103% of gross domestic product at the end of 2021.

Ms. Liang was nominated by former President

Donald Trump

to a seat on the Fed’s seven-member board of governors in 2018, but her nomination ran into opposition from Senate Republicans. She withdrew from consideration in early 2019.

She served most recently as a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, the Washington think tank where Treasury Secretary

Janet Yellen

worked after leaving the Fed in 2018.

Ms. Liang was the founding director of the Fed’s division of financial stability and ran it from 2010 until 2017, when she left the central bank. She joined the Fed as a research economist in 1986 and has a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Maryland.

Late last year, Ms. Liang outlined a proposal to improve the resilience of the market for U.S. Treasury securities, which witnessed severe and unprecedented strains when the coronavirus pandemic hit in March of last year. Those strains were resolved only after enormous Fed purchases of government debt.

Write to Kate Davidson at kate.davidson@wsj.com

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