You can diss your boss in public only so many times before he becomes your former boss. John Walsh, acting director of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, learned that lesson the hard way on Friday after President Obama nominated a different bank regulator, Thomas J. Curry, to take over leadership of the agency.
As regular remembers may remember, John Walsh first criticized the Obama administration’s record on financial reform in May, when he told members of the Financial Services Roundtable that newly-passed laws could hit the industry like a “tsunami.”
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The following month Walsh did it again, this time in a foreign country. Speaking in London before the Centre for the Study of Financial Innovation, Walsh said:
“To put it plainly, my view is that we are in danger of trying to squeeze too much risk and complexity out of banking as we institute reforms to address problems and abuses stemming from the last crisis.”
It’s virtually unheard-of for a member of a president’s own administration to criticize the president, especially on such prominent piece of legislation. Congressional Democrats blasted Walsh for drawing the wrong conclusions from the 2007 financial crisis, and urged President Obama to replace him. Walsh has served as acting director of the comptroller’s office—the lead federal regulator of most large banks—for almost a year.
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“It is time—way past time—for the President to nominate a leader for the OCC who is committed to building a solid long-term foundation for our economy,” Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) said in a press release.
Apparently the president agreed. On Friday he nominated Curry, a former bank regulator in Massachusetts and now a member of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s board, to replace Walsh.
Image: Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, via Wikimedia Commons