Sunday, March 07, 2010

Report: Fed to Keep Supervision Authority of Large Banks

by Bill McBride on 3/07/2010 08:56:00 PM

The Financial Times reports: Big bank oversight to stay with Fed

Chris Dodd ... is set to propose this week that the 23 largest institutions stay under the Fed’s oversight ... At issue ... was the regulation of several hundred state chartered institutions that also want to remain under the Fed’s supervision.
...
“The Fed feels it is gaining some momentum,” said [an unidentified Senate aide].
excerpted with permission
The Fed has been lobbying hard, and according to the Financial Times, has the backing of Secretary Geithner and many of the bank lobbying associations.

The regional Fed presidents have been arguing for the Fed to retain supervision authority too. Dr. Altig at Macroblog quotes from Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart's speech last week:
"... the Fed must play a central role in a defense structure designed to prevent or manage future crises. My key argument is the indivisibility of monetary authority, the lender-of-last-resort role, and a substantial direct role in bank supervision. Only the Fed can act as lender of last resort because only the monetary authority can print money in an emergency. To make sound decisions, the lender of last resort needs intimate hard and qualitative knowledge of individual financial institutions, their connectedness to counterparties, and the capacity of management.

"There is sentiment in Washington that would separate these tightly linked functions that are so critical in responding to a financial crisis. Removing the central bank from a supervision role designed to provide totally current, firsthand knowledge and information will weaken defenses against recurrence of financial instability. Flawed defenses could be calamitous in a future we cannot see."
It is probably true that supervision authority helps the Fed respond to a crisis, but what about preventing a crisis? The recent track record unfortunately speaks for itself.

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