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The first woman to lead the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City is retiring

Esther George, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
David X Tejada
Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City
Esther George, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City will retire January 31.

Esther George, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, will retire at the end of January after a 40-year career at the bank. She leaves as the U.S. faces a challenging economic landscape.

When Esther George joined the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City in 1982, the country was in a recession and unemployment had reached a historic high.

Over the course of her four-decade career, George has held a variety of positions at the Federal Reserve, including bank examiner, data collections, human resources, and bank supervisor.

"Staying at one organization for that long really involves a series of many different kinds of jobs within that organization," George says. "And that really became the opportunity for me to develop a breadth of understanding of how the central bank worked."

The Missouri native went on to become the first woman appointed head of the bank in 2011.

She will retire at the end of the month as the country grapples with a difficult economy, fraught with inflation and high interest rates.

"I think we have a big challenge ahead of us, for sure," George says. "But I think aimed in the right direction, and that is a commitment to bringing down this high inflation from where it is to something that represents closer to 2%."

The steps to a more balanced economy won't be easy, she says.

"They involve raising interest rates, shrinking the Federal Reserve's balance sheet to bring the imbalance that we see today between demand and supply, and a better balance," she says.

The Federal Reserve mandates its presidents retire by age 65.

"It's bittersweet but something I knew faced me from the start," George said. "I have no regrets in terms of my time."

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