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What I Asked the CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta

Dennis P. Lockhart, President and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, [here’s his wiki] spoke at a New York Association for Business Economists luncheon on March 3, 2010. In his role, he also serves on the Federal Reserve’s chief monetary policy body, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC).

The speech was pro forma for such events. He talked about the economic recovery (sluggish), new financial regulation (as little as possible despite popular outrage), and long-term balancing (get rid of federal government and trade deficits, boost savings).

My question, the second of the Q&A: Do you know why the Federal Reserve is being granted more regulatory authority when it failed miserably in its regulatory role?

He tried to brush it off by stating that it was an opinion, not a question, but I persisted.

His answer will sound familiar because it contains just about every talking point on the subject rolled together.
• Mistakes were made.
• The FRB’s 3 roles of lender of last resort, monetary policy, and financial regulator are inseparable.
• FRB is only organization that can look horizontally across all types of financial institutions.
• Can’t start over with financial regulation.
• Looking forward, the FRB internal reforms will allow it to do a better job, especially to judge systemic risk from financial innovations.

I asked him to go into detail on FRB internal reforms, and the only thing he mentioned was do more stuff like the “stress test,” to which he attributed magical powers of having reassured the global financial system.

Well, at least someone said it to his face. There were some press in attendance, but I don’t know which organizations.

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