Employ America won’t oppose every pick Mr. Trump makes for the Fed: Mr. Bell often praises Richard H. Clarida, the Fed’s vice chair, who was nominated by Mr. Trump. Nor is the group anti-Fed. Mr. Amarnath worked at the New York branch after college and has either participated in or coached Fed Challenge, in which team members role-play real life policymakers, since he was 15. He is something of an organizational enthusiast.
But Mr. Amarnath, 27, left his job as a hedge fund economist to help start the group because he thinks the Fed could use a push toward deeper self-reflection. Policymakers started saying the economy was near full employment in 2016, for instance, but businesses have continued to hire steadily since then.
“There are always priors to challenge,” said Mr. Amarnath, a Columbia graduate who studied economics. “These are costly errors. You say, ‘We’re at maximum employment,’ and then eight million jobs show up.”
He recently published an article on Medium suggesting that the Fed should set policy with an eye toward overall labor income, rather than inflation, when the economy is shaky. Such an approach would result in lower policy rates for longer and, in theory, faster labor market healing. More recently, he has published a “quick and dirty case” for a .50 percentage point rate cut at the Fed’s June meeting, which would be a more aggressive and earlier move than most economists and investors expect.
Ms. Stiens, 33, manages Employ America’s operations and will help with hiring if the organization’s funding is extended.
If it is a little brazen for three people with a trial grant to try to influence a 105-year-old central bank that employs hundreds of Ph.D. economists, at least there is some precedent. Fed Up, started in 2014 and also funded by Open Philanthropy, brought protesters in green shirts emblazoned with the words “What Recovery?” to high-profile events like the Fed’s annual meeting in Jackson Hole, Wyo., to pressure policymakers to maintain low rates.
At a time when groups on the right were calling loudly for rate increases, the Fed Up organizers landed meetings with Fed officials and drew media attention. Mr. Bell consulted with Fed Up and admired the group’s work, but wanted to create a wonkier complement to its grass-roots outreach.