President Joe Biden announced on Tuesday that he would appoint Marilynn Malerba, chief of the Mohegan Tribe, as the next treasurer of the United States.
Malerba will serve alongside Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen as she oversees the U.S. Mint, Fort Knox, and the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. She will also advise Yellen on “community development and public engagement” and lead the newly created Office of Tribal and Native Affairs.
The U.S. treasurer role has been vacant since January 2020, when Trump appointee Jovita Carranza departed to lead the Small Business Administration.
Malerba, who is carrying out a lifetime appointment as chief of the Mohegan Tribe in Southeastern Connecticut, worked as a registered nurse before her current role as a member of the Treasury Tribal Advisory Committee, according to the White House. She advises Yellen on the taxation of Native Americans.
“Chief Malerba’s appointment as Treasurer of the United States will also mean that for the first time in U.S. history, a Tribal leader and Native woman’s signature will soon be seen on the nation’s currency,” according to a Treasury Department statement.
“I am deeply honored that Chief Malerba will serve as the nation’s Treasurer and spearhead the department’s new Office of Tribal and Native Affairs. This is an historic appointment,” Yellen remarked. “Her leadership and experience will deepen our commitment to help expand economic opportunities for all Tribal communities.”
After her confirmation in January 2021, Yellen told staff members at the Treasury Department that she intends to “address inequality, racism, and climate change.”
“I know that many of you… see economic policy as a way to improve people’s lives; you see the humanity beneath the data,” she wrote. “I cannot be sure about the future, but I expect that when economists look back at this period in American history, they’ll conclude that perspective helped us leave behind a stronger, more prosperous country.”
More recently, however, Yellen and other top officials in the Biden administration have been forced to contend with high inflation and other economic bottlenecks. Earlier this month, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 8.6% between May 2021 and May 2022, meaning that inflation hit new four-decade record highs and once again surpassed economists’ expectations.
Last week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Nasdaq Composite fell 4.8%, while the S&P 500 was down 5.8% — marking its worst week since 2020, according to CNBC.
Yellen acknowledged the economic woes while remaining as optimistic as possible during a recent interview with ABC News host George Stephanopolous. “I expect the economy to slow,” Yellen explained. “It’s been growing at a very rapid rate, as the economy, as the labor market, has recovered. We have reached full employment. It’s natural now that we expect a transition to steady and stable growth, but I don’t think a recession is at all inevitable.”
Nevertheless, Federal Reserve Governor Christopher Waller cautioned on Saturday that efforts from the central bank to combat inflation would lead to higher unemployment, which could rise from 3.6% to 4% or 4.25%. Last week, the Federal Reserve hiked interest rates by 0.75% — the most aggressive move to combat inflation since 1994.
“If the data comes in as I expect, I will support a similar-sized move at our July meeting,” Waller explained. “The Fed is ‘all in’ on reestablishing price stability.”