The US Senate has confirmed Randall Quarles, a former Wall Street lawyer and Treasury official, to the position of Federal Reserve Vice Chair for Regulation, a post created after the financial crisis to address gaps in bank supervision.
Donald Trump promised to reverse post-crisis financial rules known as Dodd-Frank during the campaign, and Quarles is seen as the man who will be leading that effort. Not much is known about his views on monetary policy and interest rates.
His confirmation is the start of a long string of Fed board appointments facing the Republican president, including the possible replacement of Fed Chair Janet Yellen when her term expires in February.
Quarles started his career as a banking lawyer for Davis Polk but, having been an acolyte of President George H. W. Bush, eventually served in the Bush administration on international Treasury matters. He later served under President George W. Bush as Treasury undersecretary for domestic finance, a position he held for about a year. Most recently, Quarles started his own investment firm, The Cynosure Group.
For many years, he worked at the Bush-linked private-equity powerhouse Carlyle Group.
Quarles has spoken publicly on Dodd-Frank before. In a 2015 interview with Bloomberg TV, he said that repealing the law would be “politically very difficult” but that lawmakers should consider significant alterations.
Weak bank regulation and enforcement is widely seen as having played a primary role in the worst financial crisis in generations, one that crippled the economy and cost millions of jobs.
In the same interview, Quarles hinted that he could have hawkish inclinations on monetary policy. “An important element of Republican thinking about monetary policy currently is that it ought to be more rules based,” he said, referring to monetary policy rules such as the Taylor rule, which if followed strictly would have already guided official rates substantially higher.