Barr gets Senate nod as Fed’s top Wall Street cop

By David Morgan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Michael Barr, a former official at the US Treasury, won Senate confirmation Wednesday as the Federal Reserve’s top Wall Street regulator, a role in which he is set to bolster some rules that were eased during the Trump administration.

The vote was 66-28, with more than a dozen Republicans joining Democrats in support. Barr fills the last vacancy on the Fed’s seven-member board as the central bank steps up its fight on 40-year high inflation.

The Fed has been without a point person on regulation since Randal Quarles, a Trump appointee, left the role last October after four years.

Many analysts expect Barr to revisit changes that Quarles made to how the Fed assesses the banking industry’s ability to withstand a severe economic downturn.

Quarles streamlined that stress test process in response to industry complaints that it was opaque and subjective, and loosened some other rules as well in ways that critics say make the financial system riskier.

Barr is also expected to use the powerful role overseeing the country’s largest lenders to step up efforts on issues dear to the Biden administration such as climate change risk, as well as addressing other rapidly evolving areas like fintech and cryptocurrencies.

President Joe Biden’s previous pick for the vice chair of supervision role, Sarah Bloom Raskin, withdrew after drawing insurmountable opposition from Republicans and moderate Democrats.

At the Treasury, Barr was a central figure in the drafting of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law, which established a range of safeguards following the 2008 financial crisis.

(This story refiles to restore dropped word “high” in 2nd paragraph)

(Reporting by David Morgan in Washington and Lindsay Dunsmuir and Ann Saphir; Editing by Leslie Adler, Chizu Nomiyama and Jonathan Oatis)

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