Well, here's a fun twist to Sen. Chris Dodd's proposal to castrate the Federal Reserve: Big Ben Bernanke is set to travel to the Hill at some point after Thanksgiving for a few rounds with the gentleman from Connecticut, who heads the committee considering Bernanke's renomination as chairman of the soon-to-be-inconsequential Fed.
Now, Dodd is saying all the right things, telling Bernanke he's "doing a terrific job" and that his bid to give most of the Fed's power to others is "not about individuals and personalities." But then he turns around and says Ben's Boys have been an "abysmal failure" when it comes to regulating banks.
One of Bernanke's minions has already spoken out against doing anything to trim the Fed's authority, with the Kansas City branch warning that messing with the F.R. "could lead to delays or second-guessing of supervisory recommendations and greater political interference." And it was talking about Rep. Barney Frank's proposals for financial regulation reform, which don't go nearly as far as Dodd's in cutting the Fed down to size.
Dodd's bill would seek to "enhance" the Fed's role by giving its power to regulate banks to a new Financial Institutions Regulatory Administration, its consumer oversight powers to another new regulator, the Consumer Financial Protection Agency, and overall supervision of financial risks to yet another new regulator, the Agency for Financial Stability, on which Ben--if he is reconfirmed--would be one of nine voices.
Even the Fed's control over monetary policy, its sole remaining concern under the Dodd plan, could be undermined, some say, by greater politicization. Dodd has proposed getting rid of the directors at each of the 12 regional Fed branches appointed by commercial banks. Instead, they would be picked by the banks' governors, who are confirmed by the Senate. The Senate would also get to confirm the boards' chairman under the Dodd plan.
Stay tuned for Dodd vs. Bernanke, live from the Dirksen Senate Office Building.
Fed Faces Biggest Blow to Independence, Powers in Dodd Proposal [Bloomberg]
Senate Democrats Seek Sweeping Curbs On The Fed [WSJ]