A Flawed Process Generated by a Flawed Structure

Madam Chairman, Ranking Member Green, and Members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to be here today. I am Alex Pollock, a senior fellow at the R Street Institute, and these are my personal views. I spent 35 years in banking, including twelve years a President and CEO of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago, and then eleven years as a fellow of the American Enterprise Institute, before joining R Street last year. I have both experienced and studied numerous financial crises and financial cycles, including the political contributions to creating them and the political reactions afterward, and my work includes the issues of banking systems, central banking, risk and uncertainty in finance, housing finance and government-sponsored credit, and extensive study of financial history.

To begin with, let me compliment the committee staff for their detailed, specific paper on the FSOC’s non-bank designation process. The paper embodies a very good analytical idea: it “compares the FSOC’s evaluation memoranda [of various companies] against one another to measure the consistency of the FSOC’s analysis.” This comparison, as documented in the paper, results in the conclusions that the treatment of different companies is not consistent, that FSOC did not follow its own formal guidance, and in summary, that the evaluations upon which companies either were or were not designated as systemically risky (as “SIFIs”) “have been characterized by multiple inconsistencies and anomalies on key issues.”

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