Omarova is dubious choice for U.S. bank cop

Omarova’s out-of-the-box proposals are bold but don’t fit the OCC’s mission

  
Federal Reserve Board building on Constitution Avenue is pictured in Washington, U.S., March 19, 2019.

Federal Reserve Board building on Constitution Avenue is pictured in Washington, U.S., March 19, 2019.

REUTERS/Leah Millis

(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are their own.)

WASHINGTON - Saule Omarova, a law professor picked by the White House to lead the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, is a radical choice for the staid agency. She advocates scrapping private bank deposits and giving Americans accounts at the Federal Reserve. That kind of thinking is ill-suited for the body that oversees banks like JPMorgan and Bank of America.

The OCC’s plate is already full ensuring the soundness of the largest lenders, among them, scandal-plagued Wells Fargo. Under former President Donald Trump, the agency parted with other regulators to come up with its own rules on financial services in minority communities and caused confusion with seemingly politically motivated measures on lending. It hasn’t had a permanent boss in months.

Omarova’s out-of-the-box proposals are bold but don’t fit the OCC’s mission. It has no power to reshape the Fed. Her push to democratize finance would be better placed advising Democratic policymakers in Congress. Omarova still needs the approval of every Democrat in the Senate. The financial firms that hold some $17.5 trillion of U.S. deposits will hope she falls short. (By Gina Chon)

(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are their own.)

(Editing by John Foley and Amanda Gomez) ((SIGN UP FOR BREAKINGVIEWS EMAIL ALERTS: http://bit.ly/BVsubscribe))


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