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March 6, 2023

Chairman Powell Should Reject Call by Senate GOP and Wall Street to Disrupt Vice Chair Barr’s Work on Capital

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Dennis M. Kelleher, President and CEO of Better Markets, released the following statement in connection with a letter he sent to Federal Reserve (Fed) Chair Jerome Powell responding to a letter from Senator Tim Scott and nine other Republican members of the Senate Banking Committee regarding Vice Chair Barr’s ongoing holistic capital review. Tomorrow morning Powell will appear at a hearing before the Senate Banking Committee.

“Last week, ten members of the Senate Banking Committee wrote to express their ‘concerns’ about Vice Chair for Supervision Michael Barr’s ongoing holistic review of capital and the possibility that it might lead to higher capital requirements. Under Barr’s leadership, the Fed is undertaking a rigorous, comprehensive, thorough, data-driven, risk-based, holistic analysis of capital, focusing on the safety and soundness of banks and the banking system. This preemptive strike prejudging possible Fed actions and suggesting any increase in capital is a priori unnecessary irrespective of the merits and risk analysis is premature, unwarranted, unnecessary, and unfair.

“A bank’s capital cushion is all that stands between a failing bank and taxpayer bailouts like what happened in the catastrophic financial crash of 2008. The quantity and quality of capital that too-big-to-fail banks have is critically important to every American and it is imperative that the Fed and other regulators regularly review and revise capital adequacy to ensure it is sufficient to protect the American people, the financial system, and our economy. Both the quality and quantity of capital at the too-big-to-fail banks needs to be materially higher, as Better Markets has repeatedly detailed, including most recently in this report: ‘Protecting Our Economy by Strengthening the U.S. Banking System Through Higher Capital Requirements.

“Chairman Powell has previously testified that ‘the law gives the Vice Chair for Supervision the authority to set the regulatory and supervisory agenda.’ The bottom line is everyone should let the Vice Chair and the Fed’s staff do their work and complete the holistic review. While we believe that the facts and data compel the conclusion that capital should be materially higher, we will reserve judgment until the review is completed and publicly disclosed. We would urge others to do the same.”


Better Markets is a non-profit, non-partisan, and independent organization founded in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis to promote the public interest in the financial markets, support the financial reform of Wall Street and make our financial system work for all Americans again. Better Markets works with allies—including many in finance—to promote pro-market, pro-business and pro-growth policies that help build a stronger, safer financial system that protects and promotes Americans’ jobs, savings, retirements and more. To learn more, visit

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