Washington – The Federal Reserve is imposing a sweeping new set of restrictions on the investments of its officials, a reaction to questionable recent trades that forced two top Fed officials to resign.
The Fed announced Thursday that its policymakers and senior staff would be barred from investing in individual stocks and bonds. They must also give 45 days advance notice of any trade and obtain prior approval from ethics officers. And they have to keep the investment for at least one year.
The new rules, which have yet to be formally implemented, will limit Fed officials to owning diversified investments, such as mutual funds, rather than individual securities.
Chair Jerome Powell said in a statement, “These tough new rules raise the bar high to reassure the public that we serve that all of our senior executives remain one-mindedly focused on the Federal Reserve’s public mission. “
FILE – US Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell speaks on the House Financial Services Committee oversight of the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve’s coronavirus pandemic response on Capitol Hill September 30, 2021 in Washington.
Thursday’s announcement follows a period of unusual public scrutiny of the Fed’s financial ethics rules. It made revelations last month that two presidents of regional Fed banks, Robert Kaplan and Eric Rosengren, traded stocks and funds in 2020, at the same time the Fed was taking sweeping measures to calm markets during the pandemic downturn. Kaplan and Rosengren announced their resignations shortly thereafter.
The tough new ethics rules coincide with President Joe Biden’s upcoming decision on whether to nominate Powell for a second four-year term as Fed chairman. Powell’s term ends in February, but most observers expect the White House to announce the decision this fall.
Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts Democrats, have argued that the Fed’s current rules about investing are too lax and allow investments that increase potential conflicts of interest for policymakers.
Kaplan, who leads the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, traded $1 million or more in 22 different stocks last year, including Apple, Facebook and Chevron.
Rosengren, who heads the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, invested in funds containing the same types of mortgage-backed securities that the Fed was buying as part of its efforts to maintain long-term interest rates.