Former Ripple Advisor Michael Barr Will Supervise the Federal Reserve

Michael Barr will influence policy on cryptocurrencies and stablecoins, alongside serving as a top banking watchdog


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key takeaways

  • Michael Barr played advisor to the embattled Ripple Labs in 2015
  • Fed chief Jerome Powell has said Barr’s role is “charged with setting the regulatory agenda”

The Senate has confirmed former Ripple advisor Michael Barr as a top banking watchdog at the US Federal Reserve, after he received bipartisan support on Tuesday.

President Joe Biden nominated Barr to the role of vice chair for supervision of the Federal Reserve in April owing to his career in consumer protection and his role in shaping the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act following the 2008 financial crisis.

Barr, once pegged to serve as comptroller of the currency, was also a top Treasury Department official during former President Barack Obama’s administration. He secured a 66-28 vote by the Senate, exceeding the simple majority of 50 votes required for confirmation. 

“Today’s confirmation of Michael Barr as Vice Chair for Supervision of the Federal Reserve is important progress for my plan to tackle inflation and for sound oversight as we transition to steady and stable growth,” Biden said in a statement.

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In 2015, Barr became an advisor to Ripple Labs — which is at the center of a major lawsuit with the Securities and Exchange Commission that argues the company sold XRP tokens worth $1.3 billion as unregistered securities. He’s no longer listed as an advisor, and it isn’t clear when he left as he hasn’t listed professional experiences on LinkedIn. Ripple didn’t respond to Blockworks’ request for comment by press time.

In any case, the Fed will now have a full board for the first time since 2013, at a time when the US tackles its worst inflation in 40 years. Barr’s role had been vacant since late 2021 after Fed governor Randal Quarles stepped down in October. 

As a US central bank supervisor, Barr is expected to scale daily oversight of both the biggest lenders and smaller financial firms that play a part in the overall economy. He’ll also be in charge of developing regulatory policies for cryptocurrencies and stablecoins, which have been priorities for the Biden administration.

The Fed’s chairman Jerome Powell said last year that he would accept the authority of the person in the supervision role as it is “charged with setting the regulatory agenda.”

Barr, who joins the Fed from the University of Michigan’s Gerald F. Ford School of Public Policy, said in a May hearing that he’s committed to softening inflation to the Fed’s 2% target and ensuring the financial system is “robust and resilient.” 

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