Biden’s prospect for OCC believes in Soviet-style economics, calls to ‘end banking as we know it’

President Joe Biden is expected to nominate a law professor who wants to end traditional banking to lead the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC).

According to multiple reports, Biden plans to nominate Cornell University Law School Professor Saule Omarova, who has said in the past she would like to “end banking as we know it.” The OCC is responsible for regulating and providing oversight of the U.S. banking system.

Specializing in banking law, corporate finance, and international finance, Omarova has degrees from Moscow State University in Russia, the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and the Northwestern University School of Law, The Hill reported.

Last month, The New York Times reported that the Biden White House was in the process of vetting Omarova, a native of Kazakhstan, to head up the banking oversight agency after dropping two previous nominees over infighting within the Democrat Party.

“The first candidate, Michael S. Barr, an Obama administration official, drew criticism from progressives who said he was too deferential to banks when the Dodd-Frank regulatory package was being negotiated after the 2008 financial crisis,” the paper said.

“And Mehrsa Baradaran, a banking law professor who was a favorite of progressives, was attacked by Mr. Barr’s supporters for lacking management experience and the support of moderate Democrats,” the Times said, adding that both potential nominees were abandoned after the White House came to the conclusion that neither would get enough support in the evenly divided Senate to win confirmation.

The paper said that she has regularly kept a low profile, but a look at her academic writings gives some indication as to how she would approach her job if she wins confirmation. For one, Omarova has pointed out the risks of banks entering the world of cryptocurrency, which has grown by leaps and bounds but “remains a digital Wild West,” the Times said.

Specifically, Omarova has argued that wading into cryptocurrency would give banks the ability to engage in more financial activities without the knowledge of the Federal Reserve and banking industry regulators. Some banks, the Times noted, are already building crypto businesses, including JP Morgan Chase and Citigroup.

Biden’s reported pick of Omarova sparked a raft of negative reactions.

“President Biden checked off another progressive identity box last week by nominating Saule Omarova as Comptroller of the Currency. Some Trump appointees were ridiculed for having supported the elimination of their agencies. Ms. Omarova wants to eliminate the banks she’s being appointed to regulate,” The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board noted on Wednesday.

“The Cornell University law school professor’s radical ideas might make even Bernie Sanders blush. She graduated from Moscow State University in 1989 on the Lenin Personal Academic Scholarship. Thirty years later, she still believes the Soviet economic system was superior, and that U.S. banking should be remade in the Gosbank’s image.”

Others responded via social media.

 

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