Last week, former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker had proposed a plan for overhauling the federal regulatory system—one that included eliminating the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) altogether. Since dubbed the “Volcker plan,” the head of the OCC, Thomas Curry, has come out against the proposal, saying it would be ineffective at solving the nation’s regulatory issues.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Curry sent an email to OCC employees Wednesday stating, “While I have great respect for Mr. Volcker, I disagree with him completely on this issue. In fact, I told him so in a recent conversation.”
The OCC is crucial, Curry said in his email, as it is the only regulatory agency that is focused exclusively on supervision.
“Because of that,” Curry wrote, “we have developed great expertise in prudential supervision, so much so that I would argue that our agency is home to the most talented and experienced supervisory staff anywhere in the world.”
Curry said the agency is constantly improving, citing recent initiatives like Heightened Standards, Supervisory Peer Review and the creation of new offices for strategic management and enterprise risk management as evidence.
“The drive to question ourselves and improve is one of the reasons that the OCC remains the nation’s preeminent supervisory agency,” Curry wrote.
But according to Volcker, that doesn’t matter. In his proposal, titled “Reshaping the Financial Regulatory System,” Volcker criticizes the nation’s reliance on a regulatory system that is too large, too complex, and too fragmented. He calls for cutting out the OCC, merging other regulatory agencies, and creating a single, more focused oversight agency to manage the U.S. financial system.
In Curry’s email, however, he stated that Volcker’s plan is unlikely to be successful.
“There have been a number of attempts over the last three decades to merge the bank regulatory agencies,” Curry wrote in his email. “Yet none have succeeded … It is highly unlikely that this proposal will fare any better than those that preceded it.”
To conclude his email, Curry said it’s not Volcker’s plan that matters, but ensuring a stable banking system for the American people.
“At the end of the day, however, what really matters is that we continue to provide the kind of strong supervisory oversight that ensures a safe and sound federal banking system capable of supporting a strong national economy and the financial interests of the American people,” he wrote. “That’s the reasons the OCC has excited for 152 years and it is the reason we will proudly continue to serve the American people in the future.”
View the full email by clicking here.