US Senate confirms Biden nominee Michael Barr to central bank

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The US Senate on Wednesday confirmed President Joe Biden’s nominee for the role of the top Federal Reserve banking cop, a key oversight role for the country’s fiscal policy.

Michael Barr, a former Treasury official who worked on banking reform and the creation of the consumer protection agency in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis, was approved by a vote of 66-28. His term as Fed vice chair for supervision will last four years.

Barr’s confirmation “is important progress for my plan to tackle inflation and for sound oversight as we transition to steady and stable growth,” Biden said in a statement after the vote.

During his nomination hearing, Barr stressed his commitment to bringing down sky-high inflation and ensuring the resilience of the US economy.

He also downplayed the central bank’s influence over climate change policies, an issue that torpedoed the US president’s first choice for the role.

Barr was nominated in April after Senate Republicans blocked a vote on Sarah Bloom Raskin, who became a lightning rod for critics who said she was hostile to the oil industry.

She withdrew from consideration in March after a key Democratic senator said he would not support her.

The opposition to Bloom Raskin helped to delay Biden’s efforts to fill the vacant seats at a time when monetary policymakers are waging war against inflation that has hit a 40-year high.

The world’s largest economy is being buffeted by ongoing shocks from the Covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine that have driven prices higher and threaten to worsen supply chain issues.

Tight labor markets have created a shortage of workers, causing employers to bid up wages, adding to the inflation pressures.

The Fed last month implemented a three-quarter-point rate hike, the biggest in nearly 30 years, and economists say a similarly large increase is likely later this month.

Barr’s appointment fills the last spot on the Fed’s seven-seat board.

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