The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Want To Show That Dems Have Learned Nothing Since 2008? Give Michael Barr A Fed Seat


In response to reporting that the Biden administration is considering nominating fintech consultant and Ford School dean Michael Barr for the Federal Reserve's Vice Chair for Supervision, Revolving Door Project Executive Director Jeff Hauser issued the following statement:

"Michael Barr was too close to fintech and cryptocurrency schemers to be the Comptroller of the Currency, and he is still too close to them to be Vice Chair for Supervision. Placing him at the top of the Fed's regulatory efforts would also send a cynical message to anyone who hoped Democrats had realized that preserving 'Too Big To Fail' after 2008 was a mistake."

"Sheila Bair, one of the heroines of the 2008 crisis, personally named Barr in her memoir as pushing Congress for 'flexibility to do future bailouts' and says shifting away from bailing out the banks came 'much to the consternation' of Barr. Under Barr's disastrous leadership, the Obama-era HAMP program went from freeing homeowners from unaffordable mortgages to freeing banks from any consequences for their own bad actions, with homeowners sacrificed to preserve Wall Street. While Barr was a true ally in the fight for creating the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, when it came to shifting the economic structure of Wall Street itself, he was a proud supporter of the 'Too Big To Fail' bailout-heavy status quo. Putting Barr in charge of regulation at the Fed, the institution which bails out banks in the first place, would torpedo any notion that Democrats have learned from that error in judgment."

"Barr's judgment has not improved since the crisis: he was an advisor and legitimator for Ripple, an unregistered security posing as a cryptocurrency. He is still part of a network of advisors to NYCA Partners, a venture capital fund that brings Wall Street and Silicon Valley together to carve up Americans' finances via regulation-dodging fintech apps. He once sat on the Board of the Ripple- and fintech-funded Alliance for Innovative Regulation, a think tank which has called for throwing out almost everything which keeps our financial regulatory system accountable to the public, such as FOIA law and public comment periods, and replacing it with surveillance technology."

"In short, Barr can't be trusted to make enemies of the old banks or the new fintechs when necessary for the safety and soundness of the financial system. We need a VC-S who looks out for the people and the economy, not for his own career."

The Revolving Door Project (RDP) scrutinizes executive branch appointees to ensure they use their office to serve the broad public interest, rather than to entrench corporate power or seek personal advancement.