Donald Trump abruptly announced the firing of more than three dozen employees of a federal watchdog group tasked with monitoring financial risks and stress on global markets, an area that has come under increasing pressure with the imposition of Trump’s product tariffs — a package of financial disincentives that is largely regarded as foolhardy, even by members of the President’s own party.
The report from Reuters says that the layoffs were expected as early as last December as part of Trump’s plan to downsize the Office of Financial Research, although none expected that the cuts would come all at once or be quite as deep. At a staff of just over 200, this marks an immediate 20 percent reduction in staff. It’s coupled with a budget cut of more than 25 percent, making the agency inside Treasury largely symbolic at this point.
Some employees will be shuffled to other areas of the federal government, raising the question of whether Trump’s intent is actually to save money — which eliminating salaries would do — or simply “downsizing” the agencies he is not fond of, to the point of irrelevance in terms of functionality.
The OFR is considered an “independent bureau” within Treasury, meaning that it has enjoyed broad authority to make recommendations on market trends without Congressional oversight. That is sometimes necessary to prevent conflicts of interest between US financial policy and Congress members who happen to be heavy investors in the financial markets — a trend we learned a lot about this morning following the indictment of Rep. Chris Collins of New York for insider trading.
The office was created with the passage of the Dodd-Frank bill that followed the financial collapse of 2007 and 2008. That bill has been the focus of much of the GOP’s ire, as it has imposed rules that many conservatives consider onerous on banking institutions, preventing them from acting as both savings agencies and investment agencies.
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