Saule Omarova, is President Biden's Nominee for the next Comptroller of the Currency.
The Comptroller of the Currency is the chief regulator for all national banks and thrifts in the country. As such she would be perhaps the most influential person in determining the future of our banking system.
And by my estimation, she is the most radical nominee for this position ever.
To fully understand why I say that, let me tell you a story. A story which today you'll probably feel is closer to a fairy tale than to reality.
But I assure you that “once upon a time” really did happen.
There once lived a man who may have been wealthy. I really don't know. But each month, for as long as I knew him, for a decade or more, this man would bring a simple slip of paper, maybe something closer to a stamp. And each month, my office would pay him money for that paper. Generally several thousands of dollars.
Now this man did not appear to be wealthy. In fact, he appeared to have a very modest lifestyle. Living by himself in an upscale apartment. A very nice place. But something that would cost nowhere near the thousands of dollars we paid him each month from those slips of paper that he brought into my office.
And let me assure you that all of this activity was strictly legal. There was nothing that either the man did, and certainly, everything that we did that was carefully examined by state and federal regulators and demonstrated to be strictly on the up and up.
Where was this place you're probably wondering?
Although the better question is when was this place?
For you see, the place was America.
It's the "when" that's important. And the "when" was nearly 50 years ago, here in these United States.
You see, it was my early days as a stockbroker, and that was nearly 50 years ago in the early 1970s
And the man was my client. He invested in bonds, and by all appearances, he had a very large portfolio. But I never really knew how large, because he kept all of his bonds in bearer certificates. Actual certificates and each bond certificate had attached to it several little interest coupons. About 2 inches by 2 inches which detailed how much interest he should receive and the payment date for that coupon.
And he would bring the certificates to us at the brokerage office, where we would literally clip those coupons for him, and pay him.
It was a service that we provided for him. And not just him, but as a young broker just starting out I was assigned several of these kinds of clients. Most were older and didn't generate a lot of commission, so the brokerage house was OK with passing them off to the “young guy.”
And this wasn't some new innovation, that we just thought of in the 1970s. This was how the American Capital System had operated for over a century.
Think of it: my client had compete financial privacy. Safe from the workings of the unscrupulous frauds that prey on the elderly today. Safe from Scams and hacks that come for online financial accounts. And safe, from dare I say, governments who see your savings as their revenue.
Now just a side note, yes for US Government bills notes and bonds, and for all corporate bonds, the Registrar and Transfer agent had a record of my client's positions. But this was before the internet before prying eyes could see everything he did, constantly.
I was thinking of all this, when Saule Omarova, the new nominee for Comptroller of the Currency made some of her recent remarks. In addition to wanting to put oil, gas, coal, and all carbon-based energy companies out of business. Something that has become almost a mantra, since President Biden expressed similar sentiments a decade ago.
But it was her most recent vision for the Federal Reserve which really caught my attention.
In Ms, Omarova's world, whose academic training is in Political Science and the Law. But at least she did do some work as an undergraduate in economics. Her undergraduate Thesis was on Karl Marx.
Nonetheless, in her vision for the US Financial system, she sees the Federal Reserve, in addition to its current responsibilities morphing into the nation's sole commercial bank.
Handling all deposits, checks, and presumably savings by all American citizens. It would make distributing those stimulus checks so much easier don't you know.
Personally, I was hoping that we wouldn't need any more stimulus checks after a while. Something about a growing economy raising all boats. And all that...
But I digress,
The principal impact of this new role for the Fed would be complete stem to stern monitoring of each and every American's finances.
Nothing would be beyond the view of an all-knowing, all-seeing Federal Reserve. Which now not only would watch your complete financial life, they'd control it also.
Of course, Omarova sells this new “all-seeing Fed,” by noting that it would make the other thing like paying all taxes, fines, and fees so much easier.
All these funds would simply be collected before the citizen would be able to withdraw funds from the bank.
You know withdraw for things like life's essentials: food and shelter.
But at least you'll be happy to know that the government would be paid.
And of course able to monitor every last detail of your financial life.
Absolutely nothing would escape the overarching view of our friends in Washington.
So there you have it. Two very different approaches to finance. One from my little old client clipping coupons from long ago.
And one from the most radical nominee for a major financial position, in, I believe, our country's history.
One of these was America, one is not.