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Sen. Sanders Gathers Economists for his Planned Fed Overhaul Bill

by Peter Schroeder

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Thursday unveiled a dozen economists he has tapped to help draft a plan to overhaul the Federal Reserve he says is "riddled" with conflicts of interest, among other problems.

Headlining the group are Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel Prize winner and former top adviser to President Clinton, and Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute and special adviser to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. Headlining the group are Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel Prize winner and former top adviser to President Clinton, and Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute and special adviser to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

Other economists agreeing to offer their recommendations include Lawrence Mischel, the president of the Economic Policy Institute; Nomi Prins, a former managing director at Goldman Sachs and Bear Stearns; and Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

The outspoken senator announced Wednesday he would be consulting economists as he put together legislation to overhaul the Fed, which he has long complained is opaque and overly beholden to the financial industry. He has been particularly critical of the Fed's actions during and after the financial crisis, as it loaned out trillions to financial institutions — including some whose top executives also sit on boards of Federal Reserve banks.

While the economists have agreed to offer their thoughts to Sanders, it is not clear exactly how those recommendations will come back, according to Sanders's office. They may come together for a meeting, or simply each offer a list of recommendations.

Sanders announced he was tapping economists for advice on reforming the Fed after a study from the Government Accountability Office said that the Federal Reserve banks should be more transparent about directors who have ties to the financial sector.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), another left-leaning critic of the Fed, got in on the action Thursday, using the report to criticize the central bank.

"The Federal Reserve operates with brazen disregard for the best interests of the American economy and with very serious conflicts of interest,” he said.

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