Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis President Neel Kashkari said Congress hasn't gone far enough to protect the U.S. economy from potential crises and unveiled plans to study options for regulators that include breaking up the nation's largest financial institutions.
"The biggest banks are still too big to fail and continue to pose a significant risk to our economy," said Kashkari, who managed the U.S. Treasury's $700 billion rescue of banks in the 2008 crisis.
Kashkari, 42, said the Minneapolis Fed will hold a series of events and collect public and financial-industry input before making proposals by the end of this year on how to address the issue. He said options to consider include breaking up big banks, forcing large banks to hold so much capital they resemble "public utilities" and taxing leverage in the financial system to alleviate risks.
Kashkari, who took over at the Minneapolis Fed on Jan. 1 following a failed run for governor of California in 2014, compared the risk posed by big banks to that of a nuclear power plant in explaining why the government would probably have to bail out banks again in the event of another systemic crisis.
"The cost to society of letting a reactor melt down is astronomical," said Kashkari, who was a Goldman Sachs Group Inc. banker before joining the Treasury during the administration of Republican President George W. Bush. "Given that cost, governments will do whatever they can to stabilize the reactor before they lose control."
In testimony before Congress last week, Fed Chair Janet Yellen said regulations imposed since the financial crisis have had "very substantial payoffs in the form of a much more resilient and stronger, better capitalized, more liquid banking system."