Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is expected to name Michael Hsu — currently, the associate director of the Federal Reserve’s bank supervision and regulation division — the acting comptroller of the currency, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported Monday (May 3), citing sources.
Hsu’s appointment to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) is expected to be officially announced by Yellen in the next few weeks. The current acting comptroller, Blake Paulson, will become deputy comptroller and chief operating officer, the source said, per WSJ.
In his current role, Hsu assists with the Fed’s oversight at some of the biggest banks in the U.S., including Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Morgan Stanley, and Wells Fargo & Co. As an associate director, he holds one of the most senior posts in the OCC.
An independent bureau of the Treasury, the OCC has oversight of 1,200 banks — two-thirds of the country’s banking system — with assets totaling $14 trillion combined. The department has 3,500 employees, with someone providing oversight inside big banks.
The appointment facilitates agreement among regulators regarding central policy priorities. By way of example, the comptroller could seek consensus on overhauling lower-income lending rules under the Community Reinvestment Act, according to WSJ.
Fed governor Sarah Bloom Raskin reportedly was offered the comptroller of the currency position but declined, the source said, per WSJ.
Michael Barr, formerly part of both the Obama and Clinton administrations, was also a top contender for the comptroller’s seat. Barr currently is the dean of the public policy school at the University of Michigan. Another prospect was author and University of California law professor Mehrsa Baradaran. Baradaran book explores the racial wealth gap.
At a virtual conference in February, Yellen advised central banks to step up their efforts to establish sovereign digital currencies. While she didn’t consider bitcoin as an option, she did express support for a Federal Reserve digital dollar tied to the blockchain.