CNBC’s Insana: Letting Gary Cohn Run Fed Is Like Letting a ‘Gambling Addict Run a Casino’

lbin Lohr-Jones/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images
lbin Lohr-Jones/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

Gary Cohn lacks the experience or personal qualities to run the Federal Reserve, according to CNBC senior analyst Ron Insana.

Appointing Cohn to replace Janet Yellen as the chair of the Federal Reserve would be “like turning to a gambling addict to run a casino,” Insana wrote in an analysis piece for CNBC.com.

Cohn, currently the chief of President Donald Trump’s National Economic Council, is reportedly at the top of the White House’s short list to replace Janet Yellen when her term expires early next year. Trump is also considering re-appointing Yellen, despite having said during last year’s campaign that she should be “ashamed” of what she was doing to the country.

Prior to joining the Trump administration, Cohn was the second-highest executive at Goldman Sachs. His role their put him in close proximity to a number of scandals, including one in which the firm was charged by regulators with committing fraud and ended with Goldman paying a $550 million fine.

Cohn has “neither the academic background, nor the macro-economic skills, normally associated with monetary policy,” Insana wrote.

The Fed is entering a new and unprecedented period as it tries to unwind the huge balance sheet it built up in the aftermath of the financial crisis. That job is made more complicated by an economy that is still struggling to break out of a low-growth slump. Wage growth and inflation remain quite low, with inflation consistently coming in below the Fed’s 2 percent target.

The job of running the Fed includes overseeing its vast regulatory authority, an authority greatly expanded by post-crisis regulation and law. The Fed is now the chief regulatory of the biggest banks, administering stress tests, approving capital plans, and regulating the biggest banks for safety and soundness.  Cohn’s Wall Street background has prompted fears that he could go too far in loosening the rules aimed at reining in the big banks, allowing them to once again take irresponsible risks and put taxpayers at jeopardy of having to bail out the financial system once again.

“Like FDR, Trump is about to pack the under-staffed Fed with loyalists and Wall Streeters, a combination that could result in market-friendly policies in the short run, but that ultmately lead to much looser regulations and unstable markets in the long run,” Insana wrote.

Cohn has been described as a leader of a globalist faction inside the White House, credited with pushing against the economic nationalists who have urged the Trump administration to do more to live up to its campaign promises on America’s trade deals.

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