Top diplomat leaving Treasury

WASHINGTON — Lael Brainard, the country’s top financial diplomat, is leaving her post at the end of the week, a Treasury official said. Some have speculated that the White House might choose her for a position on the Federal Reserve’s board of governors.

Brainard has served since the beginning of the Obama administration as the undersecretary for international affairs, playing a major role in negotiations over China’s economic rebalancing and Europe’s sovereign debt crisis. Often, Brainard acted as a shuttle diplomat, attending scores of meetings with foreign finance ministers and central bankers.

That experience might prove valuable at the Fed. Concerns globally persist that the tapering of the current asset-buying program might lead to rising interest rates and the bursting of so-called Bernanke bubbles abroad.


Brainard is also well acquainted with the White House’s nominee for Fed chairwoman, Janet L. Yellen. The two have worked together in the last few years, as the Treasury and the Fed tackled the fallout from the recession.

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There are a number of open seats on the Federal Reserve board for the Obama administration to fill. Yellen has been nominated to replace Ben S. Bernanke. Sarah Bloom Raskin has been nominated to become deputy Treasury secretary, and Fed governor Elizabeth Duke resigned this summer.

In the Obama administration, Brainard has won a reputation as a tireless diplomat and firm negotiator. She has pressed Europe to mount a much more decisive and larger response to its long-simmering debt crisis.

She has also urged Beijing to hasten its reforms to the Chinese economy, reorienting away from investment and toward domestic consumption, and making it easier for foreign companies to compete with Chinese businesses.