U.S. Senator Christopher Dodd, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, said on Wednesday he was agnostic about expanding the Federal Reserve's supervisory powers but has concerns about the central bank's ability to adequately protect consumers.
It doesn't take a genius to realize the protection of consumers hasn't exactly been at the top of the Fed's shopping list, Dodd, a Democrat, told a credit union conference.
He said the Fed has a full plate supervising many of the nation's banks and conducting monetary policy, and does not do an adequate job of protecting consumers from predatory lenders.
It may be time for the Fed to go to Weight Watchers, Dodd said.
He said he will be meeting with President Barack Obama, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and House of Representatives Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, among others, Wednesday afternoon to discuss financial regulatory reform, which will include an analysis of the Fed's role.
Many policymakers have called for Congress to expand the Fed's powers to make it responsible for ensuring that no one financial institution can pose a risk to the entire financial system.
I'm sort of agnostic on this, but I'm willing to consider it, Dodd said.
But he expressed concern at how well equipped the Fed would be to deal with all of its new responsibilities.
The Fed has barely changed since it was created in 1913 ... yet its responsibilities have exploded, he said. (Reporting by Karey Wutkowski, editing by Gerald E. McCormick and John Wallace)