Obama Nominates Berner to Head Office of Financial Research

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WASHINGTON — President Obama on Friday nominated Richard Berner to become the first director of the Treasury Department's new Office of Financial Research.

The office, created by the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010, is responsible for collecting and analyzing standardized data on financial markets, with the goal of better detecting systemic threats. It can collect certain data that financial firms have previously kept secret, and it can share that data with other agencies.

Berner, a former chief economist at Morgan Stanley, has a head start on the job, since he was hired in April to begin setting up the office. The president nominated him to a six-year term that is subject to Senate confirmation.

The White House's failure to nominate someone to the post sooner had left some observers scratching their heads.

But on Friday, Democratic Sen. Jack Reed, who is credited as the architect of the Office of Financial Research, hailed the nomination.

"I am delighted President Obama has nominated someone to fulfill this critical role," Reed said in a press release. "We need this office to be analytical and apolitical. Mr. Berner meets those qualifications and has been essential in setting up the Office of Financial Research."

"Financial companies spend billions of dollars a year analyzing and collecting data, and it's about time the federal government made a modest investment in keeping up," Reed continued. "I hope Mr. Berner can quickly be confirmed because with each day that passes, new financial products and activities go unanalyzed, and could put our economy at risk."

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