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Raskin Fed nomination would put Wall Street on notice

Friday, January 14, 2022
Raskin Fed nomination would put Wall Street on notice © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Sarah Bloom Raskin, in her role as deputy Treasury secretary in October 2014, participates in an open meeting of the President's Advisory Council on Financial Capability for Young Americans at the Treasury Department in Washington, October 2,

By Pete Schroeder and Michelle Price

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Joe Biden's decision to nominate Sarah Bloom Raskin to lead regulation and supervision at the Federal Reserve will put a progressive in the most powerful role overseeing Wall Street's biggest banks, a decision that bodes badly for the industry.

Raskin, a former Fed governor and Treasury official under former President Barack Obama, will replace Randal Quarles who was appointed the Fed's vice chair for supervision by Republican former President Donald Trump in 2017, according to a source familiar with the matter.

A source familiar with the process said Biden had selected Raskin. Her nomination would be subject to Senate confirmation.

Quarles stepped down from the role in October and left the central bank at the end of December.

The bank supervision role is the most consequential of several vacancies on the Fed's seven-member Board of Governors available to be filled by Biden, giving the first-term Democrat an opportunity to steer the direction of both Wall Street oversight and monetary policy for years to come.

Biden also picked Biden also picked economists Lisa Cook and Philip Jefferson to help fill out the seven-member Fed board, the source said economists Lisa Cook and Philip Jefferson to help fill out the Fed board, the source said.

Raskin is expected to take a much tougher stance on Wall Street than Quarles, who riled progressives with an industry-friendly approach that included easing several rules introduced following the 2007-2009 global financial crisis.

She would drive policy on thorny issues including climate change financial risks, community lending rules, and financial technology companies, and would likely to review several of Quarles' rule changes which spanned rules on banks' speculative investments, derivatives trading, liquidity and capital.

Biden has already decided to renominate Fed Chair Jerome Powell to a second term and Governor Lael Brainard to the Fed's other vice chair slot, which is focused on the Fed's economic and monetary policy agenda.

As with those two appointments, Raskin would have to be confirmed by the thinly divided Senate where she might face a highly partisan reception. Raskin has been confirmed twice before, but those votes predated the current partisan rancor that pervades Capitol Hill.

For its part, the banking industry had been pushing for Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic, who was seen as a more moderate pick, willing to listen to the industry, according to two industry insiders.

A Harvard-trained lawyer with an undergraduate degree in economics from Amherst College, Raskin served on the Fed Board from 2010 to 2014 before moving to Treasury as deputy secretary.

While her role then did not specifically involve bank oversight, Raskin took a tough stance on key elements of the Fed's post-crisis reform agenda.

For instance, she slammed proprietary trading as of "low or no real economic value." She also pushed for a strict interpretation of the "Volcker Rule," a major reform curbing speculative investments which Quarles has eased over the past four years.

Quarles said he tailored that and other rules to banks' risks and that the industry's stellar performance https://www.reuters.com/business/finance/top-us-banks-smash-profit-estimates-rebounding-economy-2021-07-14 amid the pandemic's economic crisis shows he did not weaken the system.

Powell, who like Quarles is a former partner at private equity giant Carlyle Group (NASDAQ:CG), backed Quarles' changes, but has said he will allow the new supervision chief to take the lead on regulation issues.

DEREGULATION REDUX

If confirmed, Raskin faces a dilemma https://www.reuters.com/markets/us/bidens-new-fed-regulation-chief-faces-dilemma-over-trump-rules-rewrite-2021-12-16: how much time and political capital to expend revisiting Quarles' Wall Street giveaways versus focusing on novel issues https://www.reuters.com/business/finance/whether-centrist-or-progressive-feds-new-regulatory-chief-has-long-to-do-list-2021-09-23 like climate change, cryptocurrencies and fintech.

A major effort to overhaul Quarles' work would suck up the resources and political oxygen needed to address other Democratic priorities, and might be opposed by fellow regulators and even some centrist Democratic lawmakers, Reuters reported https://www.reuters.com/markets/us/bidens-new-fed-regulation-chief-faces-dilemma-over-trump-rules-rewrite-2021-12-16.

As a Fed board governor, Raskin would also have a vote on monetary policy. If confirmed, she will arrive at the Fed at a critical juncture for the central bank's stewardship of the U.S. economy and its recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic that triggered a short but historically deep recession in 2020.

The Fed in late 2021 shifted its policy stance in the face of an inflation rate that is running at nearly three times the central bank's 2% flexible annual target. The surge in prices for consumer goods and services, initially dismissed as a coronavirus pandemic-oriented overhang that would be "transitory," has grown into a substantial political issue and headache for both Biden and the Fed.

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