A Little Evidence That Banks Aren't Going to Love Stanley Fischer

Moneybox
A blog about business and economics.
Jan. 6 2014 1:34 PM

What Kind of Bank Regulator Will Stanley Fischer Be?

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I also have a strange accent.

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Stanley Fischer is in line to succeed Janet Yellen as the No. 2 official at the Federal Reserve. People know a fair amount about his ideas on monetary policy, but like most monetary economists he doesn't have a particularly extensive public record of views on the Fed's other role as a bank regulator. But one experience at the American Economic Association annual meeting gave me some reason to think the financial industry may end up not so happy with him.

The scene was a panel on "Financial Globalization" where the four speakers were Andy Haldane, Simon Johnson, Hans-Werner Sinn, and Maurice Obstfeld.

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My notes on the session reflect that the views expressed ranged from the idea that banks should be holding "more capital" to the idea that banks should be holding "much much much more capital." Haldane spoke first, and then after listening to the other three talks reflected that he's rarely on a panel where his presentation is the least hostile to the banking industry so he wanted to revise and extend his remarks to feature bonus calls for stricter regulation. There wasn't really much disagreement among the panelists, so it wasn't an incredibly interesting panel except who did I see in the audience but ... Stanley Fischer.

He didn't ask any questions or say or do anything, so I obviously wouldn't draw any particularly strong conclusions from this. But there were several dozen other sessions running concurrently at that time, so it's not like Fischer was there for no reason. He's obviously got some interest in the Haldane/Johnson critique of financial globalization and the broad push for less leverage in the financial system.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.