Why is Richard Cordray voting on FSOC?

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The Financial Stability Oversight Board (FSOC) just made the good decision to remove the designation of the insurance company American International Group as a “SIFI” or “systemically important financial institution.” This was a good idea, because the notion that regulators meeting as a committee should have the discretion to expand their own power and jurisdiction was a bad idea in the first place – one of the numerous bad ideas in the Dodd-Frank Act. The new administration is moving in a sensible direction here.

The FSOC’s vote was 6-3. All three opposed votes were from holdovers from the previous Obama administration. No surprise.

One of these opposed votes was from Richard Cordray, the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Wait a minute! What is Richard Cordray doing voting on a matter of assessing systemic financial risk? Neither he nor the agency he heads has any expertise or any responsibility or any authority at all on this issue. Why is he even there?

Of course, Dodd-Frank, trying to make the CFPB important as well as outside of budgetary control, made him a member of FSOC. But with what defensible rationale? Suppose it be argued that the CFPB should be able to learn from the discussions at FSOC. If so, its director should be listening and by no means voting.

Mr. Cordray, and any future director of the CFPB attending an FSOC meeting, should have the good grace to abstain from votes while there.

And when in the course of Washington events, the Congress gets around to reforming Dodd-Frank, it should remove the director of the CFPB from FSOC, assuming both continue to exist, and from the board of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. while it is at it, on the same logic.

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