Posted Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013, at 8:56 AM
Word on the street is that the Obama administration is taking a serious look at Ruth Porat, currently chief financial officer of Morgan Stanley, to be Jack Lew's deputy at the Treasury Department. You can see the logic of the pick, as Portat would both add a woman and someone with credibility on Wall Street to the economic team. You might think the administration would see the Wall Street connection the other way, but it's clear they're more sensitive to the criticism of being too distant from corporate America than the criticism that they're too close to it.
But no major bank executive is going to have gotten through Obama's first term without a little tangling with the regulatory system. And thanks to the Sunlight Foundation we can find out a little about Porat's lobbying executive agencies on the Dodd-Frank financial regulation overhaul. She looks to have done five meetings with the Federal Reserve, four with Treasury proper, and one with the FDIC. The meetings ran the gamut from the Volcker Rule and "derivatives" (no further explanation) to the CFPB but the big repeater is enhanced supervision (i.e., tighter regulation) of megabanks, which is arguably the core of the Dodd-Frank legislation. If she does get tapped for the nomination, confirmation hearings would be an excellent time to try to suss out her views on this.
I'm not generically opposed to the idea of someone with private sector experience sliding into a regulatory role. In the spirit of send a thief to catch a thief, someone familiar with what kind of loopholes big banks are trying to poke in this framework could be the ideal person to patch them up. But it could also be that someone from the private sector has zero interest in establishing an adversarial relationship with her former colleagues.