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Confirmed: Financial Stability Oversight Board Hasn’t Met Since January

John on March 23, 2009 at 8:35 am

A written request to the Federal Reserve for information on meetings of the Financial Stability Oversight Board seems to confirm that, contrary to its own bylaws, the FSOB has not met since Obama’s inauguration.

When the TARP bill was passed last year, it included provisions for oversight of how the $700 billion in taxpayer money would be spent. Below is a helpful chart of the various oversight agents which were established by the bill (click for full size):

tarp-oversight

You’ll notice that the Financial Stability Oversight Board is high on the list. This group is composed of all the heavy hitters:

  • Secretary of the Treasury: Timothy Geithner
  • Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System: Ben Bernanke [chair]
  • Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development: Shaun Donovan
  • Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission: Mary Schapiro
  • Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency: Ronald A. Rosenfeld

The FSOB’s bylaws (pdf here) state unequivocally:

Frequency; location; agendas. The Chairperson shall provide notice of, and preside over, the Board’s meetings, which shall occur no later than the date that is 2 weeks after the first exercise of the Secretary’s purchase authority under the Act, and monthly thereafter.

This accords with the Congressional testimony of Bailout Czar Neel Kashkari which I linked previously in which he said “the law requires the board to meet once a month.”

Yet according to the Treasury website where the minutes of these meetings are posted, there hasn’t been an FSOB meeting held since January 15th. This google cache of a now defunct page where the minutes were previously posted also shows no meeting after Jan. 15th. Yet both pages indicate they were updated as recently as early March.

I contacted the press offices of all five of the above agencies. The first response came this morning by e-mail. My query to the Federal Reserve read in part:

I have been unable to find meeting minutes, press accounts or any other record of meetings of the FSOB since 1/15. How many meetings have been held since that date (if any) and why haven’t minutes of the meetings been made available to the public?

Here’s the response in full:

Dear Mr. Sexton:

Thank you for your correspondence.

The information you are looking for can be found on the U.S. Treasury’s website: http://www.treasury.gov/initiatives/eesa/minutes.shtml
I hope this information was helpful.

Sincerely,

Board Staff

Of course, this is exactly the site I’ve already linked to twice before, the one that shows the last meeting of the FSOB was held January 15th. Since Fed Chairman Bernanke is Chair of the FSOB, his press office should be able to give out a more recent meeting date if there is one. Since they did not, I’m calling this confirmation that no meeting has been held since the inauguration. But as mentioned, I have calls in to four other agencies, at least one of which has promised to get back to me. I’ll update this information if it changes.

Beyond the apparent violation of its own bylaws, one has to wonder to what extent this failure to hold oversight meetings has played into some of the flat-footedness of the Obama administration on issues such as the AIG bonuses. As I noted last week, the FSOB is precisely the group responsible for making decisions about reigning in executive compensation. In fact, they discussed the issue of AIG bonuses last November, according to meeting minutes.

The big question is “Where did the Financial Stability Oversight Board go?” This is the primary oversight body for $700 billion in taxpayer money. It’s existence is a requirement of the TARP bill. Yet it appears to have vanished (certainly at least from public view) without so much as a word of explanation.

Related: Ed at Hot Air notes a new story at Politico. Apparently the FSOB isn’t the only group failing to hold meetings:

Six weeks after President Barack Obama appointed a blue-ribbon panel to help him dig America out of its economic crisis, the board has yet to hold an official public meeting.

Ed asks “What the heck does Treasury do?”

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Category: Politics |

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