SF Fed’s Williams: “Prosperity is Like a Jenga Tower”

  • Offers holistic vision of economic prosperity
  • Says “Prosperity for any of our communities is prosperity of all our communities”

New York, New York – Today, John C. Williams, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco offered a holistic vision of economic prosperity predicated on the notion that American economic potential depends on an array of factors, including economic mobility, diversity, the built environment and public health. Speaking at a launch and learning event for the Strong, Prosperous and Resilient Communities Challenge (SPARCC) at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Williams strongly endorsed the work of the SPARCC coalition, of which the San Francisco Fed is a founding member.

“We live in a world where prosperity for any of our communities is prosperity for all our communities,” said Williams. “Since well-being is the sum of a host of intertwined factors, expanding our economic potential means addressing all of these factors holistically.”

“Prosperity is like a Jenga tower: Each individual piece matters to the stability of the entire tower. Take one piece out and the whole thing can fall.”

In his remarks, Williams drew a connection between the question of how to grow the U.S. economy at a faster, yet sustainable pace that is not “too-hot or too-cold,” with the work that’s being done by the SPARCC coalition partners to promote community investment. 

“Even though such investments are beyond the purview of monetary policy, there are things that each of us can do, in our own way, to move all of us forward,” explained Williams. 

Launched in July 2016, SPARCC is a three-year, $90 million initiative designed to spark investment in underserved communities, addressing challenges related to issues like infrastructure, transit, affordable housing, the build environment, and public health. Its partners include the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, along with Enterprise Community Partners, the Low Income Investment Fund, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Ford Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and The California Endowment.

The six initial sites that SPARCC is targeting include the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, and Memphis. 

The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco (SF Fed) serves the public by promoting a healthy, sustainable economy, and supporting the nation’s financial and payment systems. With offices in Los Angeles, Seattle, Salt Lake City, Portland and Phoenix, the Bank serves the Twelfth Federal Reserve District, which includes one-fifth of the nation’s population and represents the world’s fourth-largest economy. As part of the nation’s central bank, the SF Fed informs monetary policy, regulates banks, administers certain consumer protection laws and acts as a financial partner to the U.S. government.