Thursday, November 19, 2009
It looks like today will be an important day for those, on one side, who seek to shine a little more light on the operations of the Federal Reserve and those, on the other side, hoping to keep prying eyes away. Bloomberg reports that the House Financial Services Committee is discussing the issue today:
The House Financial Services Committee will consider today how much to expand audits of the U.S. central bank in a test of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke’s clout among lawmakers.There's much more than meets the eye here because there are competing efforts to audit the Fed, some watered-down versions apparently trying to get out in front of Rep. Ron Paul's (R-Texas) HR1207 bill that would subject nearly all central bank activities to audits.
Panel members will vote on a Democratic proposal to retain a ban on audits of Fed interest-rate decisions. Approval would deal a blow to Representative Ron Paul, the Texas Republican who introduced a bill with 300 cosponsors that would allow audits of interest-rate decisions, a step Bernanke opposes.
Advancing the Democratic measure would be a victory for Bernanke as the Fed faces the biggest threats to its authority and independence in five decades. Lawmakers are seeking greater transparency for the Fed and limits on its powers, saying lax regulation by the central bank helped trigger the financial crisis.
The activity today surrounds a limited audit amendment offered by Rep. Mel Watt (D-NC) that would be tacked onto another House bill. Senator Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) also has Fed auditing included in his massive financial market regulatory reform bill introduced last week, however, it is the weakest of the three efforts.
Ron Paul wrote an op-ed piece titled "Americans Deserve a Transparent Fed" that appears in today's Wall Street Journal and both the Huffington Post and The Hill have recent reports:
- Audit The Fed Effort Under Threat In House
- Economists Opposing Fed Audit Have Undisclosed Fed Ties
- Audit The Fed Effort Wins Support From An Unusual Coalition