Too big to fail banks? Break ‘em up, Fisher says

March 21, 2012

Dallas Federal Reserve Bank President Richard Fisher wants the biggest U.S. banks broken up, calling them a danger to financial system stability and their perpetuation a drag on the economy.  It’s an argument he’s made before – in full-length speeches, asides to reporters, parries to audience questions. (For the latest iteration, see Dallas Fed bank’s annual report published Wednesday.)

Indeed, Fisher is among the most consistent of Fed policymakers. He’s against further quantitative easing – has been ever since QE2, back in 2010. (By contrast, Minneapolis Fed President Narayana Kocherlakota supported QE2, before reversing course and opposing new rounds of monetary easing in 2011 and 2012). He’s against big banks, of course. He says repeatedly that uncertainty over taxes and regulation, not too-high borrowing costs, is what is holding back businesses from investing and hiring.

He’s even consistent with his jokes: several times last year Fisher lampooned the Fed’s increasing emphasis on transparency, quipping that no one wants to see a “full frontal” view of a 100-year-old institution. That particular joke dates back to at least 2006, according to a transcript of a Fed policy-setting meeting from October of that year. “Uncertainty is the enemy of decisionmaking,” Fisher said then, lambasting market participants eager for the Fed to provide more clarity on its views. “Of course they want more frequent forecasts. Governor Kohn and I talked about this before. They want a full frontal view. I find a full frontal view most unbecoming.”

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