American policy, American monetary policy that promotes a healthy and stable economy, since taking
office in October 2018 Dr. Daly has committed to making a more community space that is transparent
and responsive to the people it serves.
She works to connect economic principles to real world concerns, and is a sought after speaker on
monetary policy, labor economics and increasing diversity within the economics field. Dr Daly began
her career with the San Francisco Fed in 1996 as an economist, specializing in labor market
dynamics, and economic inequality.
She went on to become the bank’s executive vice president and director of research. She currently
serves on advisory board for the Center for first-generation student’s success, and the Maxwell
schools citizenship and public affairs at Syracuse University. She’s also served on the advisory
board of the Congressional Budget Office, and Social Security Administration, the Office of
Rehabilitation Research and Training, the Institute of Medicine and the Library of Congress.
Dr. Daly earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, a master’s degree
from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and a PhD from Syracuse University. She’s also
completed a National Institute of Aging postdoctoral fellowship at Northwestern University, a native
of Ballwin Missouri Dr Daly now lives in Oakland, California with her wife Shelly. Please welcome
Mary Daly and Mongkha Pavlick.
Thank you Denise that was a very comprehensive and very kind introduction. So I often get intimidated
after you do the long balance introduction for Mary, but I think your warm smile makes it much
easier for us to dive in, so thank you very much.
Before we get started, I first want to thank John and the Association for inviting us at the SF Fed
to join this event. I was able to join, very early this morning when the program started, and it was
really interesting to listen to the first segment where Bob Fisher and John and others spoke to
what’s top of mind for the association today, and I guess more excited that what we have in store
for the next half an hour to hour.
Our topics I think are very much in line with what seems to be top of mind for all the members of the
association. And personally, I think that today’s events particularly exciting for me because as a
20-year supervisor now with SF Fed it’s often I go to these outreach events and I’m on the hot seat.
I get grilled with very tough questions from a very intelligent group of bankers, and today I’m not.
Mary, you’re on the hot seat but it alleviates some of the stress I have because I get to pose the
same questions and get to hear some of your deeper thoughts on how you’re thinking about some of the
top of mind issues for our community bankers.
So I’m not going to waste any more time and jump right into our conversation. So Mary, let’s begin.
And I’ll begin with our usual suspects because there hasn’t been an event that I’ve been to where
our bankers don’t want to hear about you talk about the overall state of the economy. But I think
things are different now that we all read the news, and things are changing, but we hear the media
talking about runaway inflation, the next week is a week jobs report. How should we really be
thinking about the state of the economy right now.
Well, thanks Mongkha, and thank you for the kind introduction and comprehensive. I feel exhausted
after I listened to Mongkha’s introduction as well, so and thank you for having me. It really is a
pleasure to be here and to be speaking with you as, I’ll just say that, you know, one of my
commitments is to be a community engaged bank, and what that means is engaging with all of our
constituents. That would be our communities, and our community banks, of course, our businesses, and
so I just welcomed the opportunity to do that.
Okay so to the economy, and Mongkha you’re completely right: if you read the news you have the
volatility of one minute people being very worried that we’ll have runaway inflation, the next
minute they’re worried that the job market means things aren’t as good as we thought.
The stock market today is getting agitated about the high market valuations of tech stocks and
engaging in a sell-off, and so these are just volatile times. I want to back up from the volatile
times and I want to say that, here is what I see in the Outlook going forward.
My modal out is quite positive. I’m bullish about where the economy will be at the end of this year,
my reasons are really two-fold. One, the vaccination rates have been higher than we expected at this
point in the year, and also the momentum on vaccinations just continues to say solid.
We’ve had some waning, of course, as all the early vaccinators went out, and then some of the
vaccine-hesitant or more cautious, are coming in at a slower pace. But I’m still confident that we
are just going to chip away get more and more of our people vaccinated.
Should that occur as I expect, then what we find is that and this is the second piece as soon as
people are vaccinated and ready, they’re just ready to get out and spend. The weather’s getting
warmer in most parts of the country, and people are getting vaccinated, it’s safer to go out, with
those things in mind.
The latest retail spending numbers highlight why I’m confident. People stopped shopping just at home,
and they went out and bought clothing and other things we thought they’d never buy again, other than
yoga pants, and they bought them in stores that sell clothing not off of Amazon or the Banana
Republic website, so I’m very excited to see those types of trends. They’ve gone to restaurants etc.
So that makes me more bullish. And businesses are meeting this dem and by trying to ramp up
production, and that would be true of restaurants, all the way to fabricators of metal parts that
that make cars and other things we need.
This is naturally causing a considerable number of bottlenecks, we see bottlenecks in you’ve heard it
in shipping and other places where the spot price for a container ship is two times, three times
what it is if you made a long term contract.
So those bottlenecks are true in big things like shipping, but I went to a restaurant the other day a
Mexican restaurant they ran out of lettuce. I asked how did you grab the lettuce, and they said well
we’re completely bad at estimating how many people are going to come to our restaurant each night,
and the inventory of the lettuce providers is also behind because they’ve got so much lettuce going
to online shopping and not enough coming to restaurant sales because restaurants were not buying
much of it.
So, all of these things are transition dynamics of a normal economy, and that’s why you see both the
inflation. That’s one of the things that explains both the inflation fears people have, because we
are seeing a pickup in in prices that are, in our minds, transitory.
As a policymaker, I’m looking through those there’s these base effects we call them because of the
12-month math of price level was low, during the depth of COVID, and just returning to normal means
inflation goes up, but also these bottlenecks.
There are bottlenecks everywhere, and these bottlenecks are causing temporary price spikes that will
unravel and unwind once the bottlenecks are resolved. It’s also causing labor shortages. It’s all
over the news, that labor shortages are everywhere, that we have many jobs that can’t be filled, and
I will say this is also likely transitory.
The reason is that there are many people who are still afraid. They still don’t feel like they should
go out because of health concerns, not everybody’s vaccinated, not all workplaces feel as safe as
other workplaces. I think another thing that we’ve failed to recognize a lot of times is that
schools aren’t in session. And so if you’re a parent, you’re trying to figure out how do I get
childcare, how do I get to my job, do I really want a job right now or should I just hang on until
the fall when I’ll have childcare provided again in the school system? All of these things matter.
And the other thing I’ll say and I’ll share this again: I was at the same restaurant, they have the
Help Wanted sign, and the owner was complaining that can’t find workers, and I said well, you know,
tell me about your guarantee on employment.
He said we guarantee hours, and being open one week in advance, or two weeks in advance tops. So
that’s all they do, and then after two weeks, they don’t know how many hours you’re going to get or
how many days a week you’ll be working.
So if you’re an individual who’s trying to decide on, well, do I prefer arranging transportation, get
childcare, do all these other things when the job might not have that permanence or might not have
that degree of income support that they need.
You just don’t do it, so all of those things are true, and of course, workers are also have higher
savings rates than normal so they can fund themselves, despite the fact that they are not working.
So all those things add up to have a very positive outlook for the economy.
That’s the inflation employment thing I think is completely transitory and quite anticipated, and I’m
very, very hopeful that by next year we’re going to feel like we’re really starting to move
ourselves out of the deep hole that COVID has caused.
I know that was a long answer and probably rapidly said, but I wanted to make sure I squeezed in all
of that so we can get on to the other questions.
Thank you for those insights Mary, I peeked at the agenda, and I know there’s an economic full update
later this afternoon. It’s really interesting because I looked at the slides that were provided. And
I know you can probably spend the rest of our conversation talking about many of those topics, but
we certainly don’t want to spend our time doing that because, as I said in the beginning, I think
this is really an opportunity for us to shed some light on how you think about some of the topics.
So we have supervision at the San Francisco Fed really work with our community bankers, so with that
I’m going to move us to our next segment. But for the benefit of the audience I wanted to share the
approach I took to thinking about these questions because I always find it very interesting to talk
to Mary about different supervisory topics.
And what would usually happen is: one of our teams would go and brief Mary on a hot topics, something
that’s top of mind for our banks, and we think we prepared every single answer to every question she
can come up with, and inevitably at the end, she would stump us, she would stump us with a view, a
perspective or a question that’s very relevant, but we haven’t really thought about. And so my goal
today is that, yes, we’lfl be talking about some topics that are top of mind, from our perspective,
based on our engagement points with our banking community, but I also want Mary for you to share the
perspective that you use to stump us every time we speak with you.
So with that, I’m going to pick on the first hot topic which I think this morning. Bob, I don’t think
I could have said it any more passionately or comprehensively in terms of how he characterized the
community bank’s role in the PPP program.
I think for where we sit at the Fed, with a discount window under my oversight, I had some first-hand
view into how critical the community bankers and the community banks played in ensuring that PPP
loans were reaching the customers that really needed the funds. And Mary as we converse with you
throughout the year, I think it’s always interesting to hear a perspective that we don’t often maybe
think about as a banking community, which is: What is your role as a policymaker in implementing
these emergency lending programs?
So let me just back up and say thanks for that Mongkha. Let me just back up a little bit and say that
when we get to the COVID crisis, we take our typical monetary policy actions which I would offer
were bold, the fiscal actions were also bold. So we said this is a pandemic, and we need to lower
the interest rate, and immediately, as you remember the markets were very dislocated, even the
The bedrock of our financial system was dislocated, so take the actions to get the markets back to
smooth functioning so that our policy actions could intermediate through the economy, basically.
So we’ve got the interest rate, you can pass this along in car loan rates, and the mortgage brokers
can pass it along in mortgage rates and small business lending, but that was obviously not
sufficient, given the size of the economic shocks.
So we partnered with the Treasury, that’s the only way we can really work after the PPP loan program
was put forth that. And we didn’t have the capacity really to take on all the PPP loans then we were
able to open the PPP LF, with the Treasury as the backstop, because I know you notice but it’s worth
We have lending powers, not spending power so all we can do is intermediate we can’t really take
credit risk, especially credit risk that’s unsupported by that Treasury backstop or funding that’s
already there and available to us.
So with that in mind, what do we do? Well, we go into action, along with all of you. And here is
something that I told the CDIAC group so I met with them, we did a lot of community banking outreach
at the time.
My team you probably talked to a member of my team: we all went out and did things. I met with CEOs
of community banks, etc. And here is my perspective, I don’t know if it’s stumping but it’s
certainly my perspective.
So I’ve been sitting for three, four years, through in meetings where community banks were worrying
and rightly so that the entity community banking, the value proposition of community banking, was
getting overshadowed by the easy access that large bank providers can provide.
And maybe that wasn’t being seen in Washington or among policymakers, the important role that
community bankers play and community banks play in our communities. Well I think a silver lining of
this tragic pandemic has been that community banks are now seen clearly by so many policymakers as
the bedrock of how we facilitated the PPP loans, because ultimately these are about relationships.
These PPP loans were brought to scale and done in the way they were able to be done, because people
had relationships with these groups. If we look back into the data, and it says something we can
talk about a little later.
If you didn’t have any previous an existing relationship with some sort of financial entity, you were
much less likely to actually secure a PPP loan, even know how to go about it.
So these relationships deeply held in the community were really something I wanted to highlight. I
think the future of community banking now to me looks far stronger than it did in the past because
the value proposition is so clearly laid out for people in a way that’s really tangible.
It’s tangible that all of you provided so much support. Over 50% of all PPP loans given by community
banks, and that’s just an amazing number. And by and large, when I redo outreach to the community
banking systems, I’m interested if you have different views.
People think of this as a big success. They’re able to facilitate it. And we’ve put it all together
pretty fast, it’s exhausting. I think for many community bankers, at least the ones I speak to,
they’re kind of in a state of, ‘okay, that was a lot of effort but you know, now we have some of our
And I’d be interested if you have the same views. You’ve also got new relationships where people
might have banked with a big bank but they were clogged up and unavailable, and so they initiated a
new relationship with a community bank, and I think that gives value proposition for how to go
It’s always helpful, people have good memories when it comes to who helps them in a crisis. So, from
a policymaker perspective, what I’m focused on now, and I had a committee for the Federal Reserve
System of President, the regional banks.
I had the Committee on credit and risk management for the system. We have subcommittees, I chair it.
And one of our goals this year is to look at what we were doing in the PPP LF and other loan
programs mainstream, etc., look at it and bring forward a playbook.
And that playbook is where did it succeed. What can we do better, how do we make sure that we
maintain the infrastructure that allows us to go forward. We actually rely on these kinds of things
more regularly if we need to not to say that we will be fine, but we have a playbook that allows us
to choose among portfolios when treasury and Congress deem it as a reasonable thing to do, to offer
support. But from my vantage point, a huge success, probably one of the most successful programs
that we’ve run in my memory, and I just feel really strongly that community banks are the heroes in
this in this piece of our COVID support as a nation.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this Mary, and I can guarantee you this morning in the opening
segment, the group had a lot of energy, even though most of us were on mute or off video when this
topic came up.
So certainly I think a topic that’s front-and-center for our community bankers. It’s hard for me to
imagine. I’m sitting in a banker outreach event, and the top topic that I’m bringing up is not
credit or liquidity or SSI. It’s about the emergency lending program.
It really amplifies how much the world has changed for all of us this past year. And on a note of
change, I think naturally it leads me to our second topic that I’ve thought about, which is FinTech.
I think it’s no secret that at the San Francisco Reserve Bank, many areas within our reserve bank,
especially in our supervision team, we have focused on FinTech more and more as the recent years
have gone by, and now it’s really become a very integrated part of how we think about supervision,
partly because we’ve identified as an emerging risk several years ago.
But probably equally important is that it’s really a critical part of the engagement because the
risks are very present and very real now. So if you notice in my last three sentences I used risk,
risk, risk. That comes up very frequently as a supervisor, but I also want our group here today to
hear that it’s really not just about the risks that we think about. And what I really want to pick
your brain on a little bit Mary is how you think about FinTech and perhaps the opportunities that
FinTechs presented in the banking industry or the industry in general, when it relates to boosting
Sure. So Mongkha was being polite, it’s that I have maybe a different perspective on a lot of these
things because I come from the economics training background–about making markets–and not from the
standard banking background.
But let me tell you openly how I feel about community bank FinTech. So I see community banks as being
very relationship-oriented banks who are essential for their communities. Whether it was organized
that way, or and I think increasingly, it is, financially inclusive.
Recognizing that the relationships help you know that a person might be a good credit risk, despite
the fact that if you just did through a standard large bank model, you ran through a regression
framework, you might not come up with okay that person is getting that loan.
So I think that’s important also–understanding that sometimes you coach people out of these loans,
because they’re not really a good prospect for them, and so I think that’s useful. It’s more
individualized, in terms of its treatment, and its product line. So FinTechs want to offer that same
service, and they say, ‘Okay, we have the technology that allows us to tailor products to be very
accessible and individually specific so that we can make squares, for example. There’s many, many of
these, but square’s an example of their whole advertising platform. It’s sized for you, that you can
take a little thing or a big thing, and your fee for injury is small. But then you can purchase
services that are conditioned on the scale of your activity, so that feels very individual, and it
seems more tailored to what people need.
So if you think about FinTechs and community banks having the same overall business goals or visions,
then the marriage of some of these prospects just allow community banks to scale and reach more
people and more people more effectively.
So that I think the value proposition, and without talking about any of the risks, that’s what I see
as possible. And what I see going forward.
So then I started digging into this, and of course, I learned that that community base depends
tremendously on core providers. And core providers have been, I’ll try to be gentle, sluggish, to
respond to all the concerns of particular community banks in terms of modernizing some of their
And so then you think, well maybe these FinTechs can provide the service to ensure that we can get to
these people of interest. So I think that the value proposition for Financial Inclusion is truly
there, and it gives some other opportunities to make partnerships that are important.
So let me talk about where I think the challenges lie, and what has to be really focused on in order
to do. We can’t let technology drive the outcome. Technologists are always about efficiency of the
technology, but if that’s the case, you some lose some of the, for lack of a better word, the
personalized service, and the personalized product lines that actually help with the financial
I worry a lot about letting the technology drive the result as opposed to the views of community
bankers and what they would like if they were writing the code themselves, let that determine what
the technology looks like.
That means you have to have a voice, and I’ve offered to my CDIAC counsel that, you know maybe
putting the voice together in terms of, here’s what we really need, here are the five things that
could really do our work more effectively, come as a group.
It actually takes some of the risk away, but it also maybe is more influential. So these associations
like the one you’re a part of are really a nice way to think about that. The other thing I worry
about on the risk side is that it’s sold as third-party risk.
That’s a pretty onerous task; they have to review with the due diligence on a third party provider,
where you don’t have the expertise. So then it’s expensive too. So then what are the guidelines for
this, and how do you think about: how should I hire this firm, and if I hire this firm, it’s my
reputation if they have a breach, it’s our reputation because the customer doesn’t know this is a
third-party provider. They’re not going to blame that provider; they complain to us.
And so how do you do the due diligence, how do you feel comfortable that this is right, how do you
meet the supervisory procedures that we put in place so that you’re not taking on too much risk? And
here again I see an opportunity for collective action.
I think this is worth talking about, how we can be supportive, but I think it’s really the
associations like yourself. What if there’s some review process that’s collective? So not every bank
has to do it themselves, it’s a collective action. We get a star of approval or something like that.
And there’s a collective action that can be taken where things are reviewed at least given
certifications, if I can get a certification for a plumber. I’m pretty sure we should be able to get
a certification for a third party provider if we’re thoughtful about it.
So again, this is not my job so to create these things so I may be speaking in a way that seems very
visionary, but not very practical. And I apologize if that’s the case, but I really want us to think
this way as a group, and can we allow community banks to de-risk some of these enterprises, and at
the same time, recognizing and being able to realize the value proposition of them.
So I feel very optimistic about this. I’m an optimist by nature, but I feel like there’s an
opportunity here. And I guess the only thing I’ll nudge all of you on is to work together as one
voice, because I think that has more ability to shape the outlook for us.
If you work independently because you can work independently, then any FinTech group is going to be
bigger than any one community bank. So maybe you’re already doing that, and that’d be fantastic. And
of course we’re anxious to hear anything you have to say about that, or where we might be helpful as
an entity or a research system.
Thank you, Mary, I think it’s very important that our group hears about what you always tell our
teams to think big. And I think our struggle as a regulator is, and I don’t know people will chuckle
when I say this is, when you ask a regulator to be think big and be creative, it creates a mental
struggle for us because we start going to what are the regs, what are the roadblocks, though your
encouragement of our team to think big and think differently and think for the future.
And I think more importantly is this whole relationship concept. I think our supervisory teams very
much value our relationships with our banks because that’s where the conversations happen to help us
And think about some of these topics where we can use the very practical components to help us think
bigger. So I think it’s very fascinating to hear. I think your leadership of us will help push us to
a place where as regulators, we may be a little uncomfortable.
But it’s very necessary for us to be effective, so I appreciate those thoughts. And I think I chuckle
a little bit when I think about this FinTech topic because several years ago, in my prior role as
the head of our community bank supervision group, I would go out and visit with our executive level
management and board of directors that are a member of banks, every year at least once or twice a
I love sitting in a boardroom, speaking with the management team and a board. And I will try to tee
up questions to get some forward-thinking thoughts, and I distinctly remember at the time I tried to
build in some questions about, so how is the board and the bank thinking about FinTech. It was a
very broad question.
And the range of responses I got, and this was maybe three or four years ago, were either blank
stares, like ‘We haven’t thought about it much, it doesn’t apply to us, we just monitor them because
they may be a threat.’
I think that was the range of a majority of the response that I got. And now fast-forward several
years later, I don’t think there is a conversation that our team has with our banks about strategy
and risk that FinTech doesn’t come up.
So I’m really glad that we’re able to articulate to the group today, that it’s something that we’re
thinking about, not just from the risk perspective but really more holistically and how we as
supervisors should really be thinking about all these things, so that we can be balanced in how we
approach these discussions with the banking community.
And so with that, maybe I’ll move us back to something a bit more traditional, because it’s hard for
me to be in a virtual room with a group of bankers and not think about CRA. Last year I think 2020
was a quite a year for us at the Fed in terms of CRA modernization and lots of activities we had the
ANPR out in the fall and great response I think public comments were reached I think 600 plus. And
so clearly it was a topic of interest for the industry. So maybe I’ll spend a couple of minutes
asking you about your thoughts on CRA modernization, and particularly on any views on what’s next.
Sure, so as Mongkha said it’s been a big year for us, with the OCC proposal we put out. We got some
comments, then we put out some additional work and look for public comments there been a lot of
And so we’re in the process of taking in those comments and thinking about, ‘Okay, how does it affect
the modernization program that we will propose?’ Eventually, I want to back up from that, though,
for a second and ask why would we do this?
And I want to put something in our minds just generally, and I think other members of the Federal
Reserve System are thinking about it: regulations, laws, etc. They’re not like made and then they
survive forever in the state that they were made in, because the economy evolves, the financial
system evolves in this case.
The communities that you’re serving evolve in not modernizing, it is actually amiss, and sometimes
when people say I don’t like regulation or it’s not right or it’s burdensome, it’s often because
it’s not evolved along with the situations that we face.
I think CRA is an example. Their original idea is there, and it has been productive, but it hasn’t
reshaped itself as things have changed in a way that makes the highest use of its practical
application. It isn’t living up to the spirit of its core features.
And so what this is modernization is really about is, let’s bring it in line with the financial
infrastructure of the system that we see. That can get very weedy about how this is done or that’s
But let me give you a few things that are that are higher level than that. An example that I hear
about regularly is, if we want investments to look like X, why don’t we give banks credit for
investments that look like X.
So if we think like that if we have if we want sustainable communities if we want communities that
are that are growing as a group as an entity, then why can’t banks get credit if they support that
type of structure? Why is it so narrow? What if the outcome we want is different than that?
And I think that’s a really good point. Another really good point is that not all entities organize
themselves in the geographic modalities that the original CRA is made in, so why are we not thinking
about this geography?
There’s both sides to this if you let a large entity be anywhere, they might not be in the places
that you want them to be. And if you make them go to a locality that’s over served, they might
actually over invest in that locality, not invest in others.
So there’s a lot of things there that I think we just have to think hard about as regulators, but we
can’t do it alone. I think that’s why I’ve been very pleased with the outreach we’ve done I think
we’ve met with. National outreach got lots of comments, it comes up in every conversation, and we’ve
had several events ourselves.
And what is really important here, and I will double-underline this, we can’t do this by
introspection. We simply can’t look at what we’re doing and then write up a law. We have not just
public comment but public ideas, what are the ideas you have, where are the pain points, how could
it be better. How could it be more effective?
And we’ve done that with community groups with banking groups, and I think we’re going to end up with
something that is superior. It won’t be the end, and I think that’s the thing I want everybody to
know as well.
So when we get the proposal and put that forward and it ends up being the new modernized program,
that’s not the end of it, and we won’t modernize again I hope for 20 years. That’s the modernized
program that we have for now, and then it will need to evolve as the economy and the financial
system continue to evolve.
I’ll pivot to monetary policy for just a moment, but we put out a framework, and new monetary policy
framework in August of last year, and we’re utilizing that framework now. But we said it will be
evaluated from time to time and really think about like a five-year frequency. It doesn’t have to be
five years on the dot, but having that regularity of review.
And updating regulation and policy and reaction functions, which is our monetary policy framework,
keeps them fresh and keeps them targeted on things that we want to do, and ensures that the vision
we have for something, and the execution of that thing are aligned.
Thanks for that Mary. I’m listening to you talk about this concept of refresh, and I’m sure all of
our bankers on the line today will recall conversations where, when our supervisors, you know as
advisory teams, go into the banks, the expectations are very similar.
They’re refreshing, whether it’s a strategy, a plan or policy and procedures. So I think that concept
very much resonates at all levels, and in particularly for something that’s so important and
critical for the industry. So I’m really glad to know that the system.
Our system with our sister regulatory agencies are all thinking about that aspect, and our team
locally I know is very excited to really see the next steps. Our team in San Francisco have had
several of our subject matter experts be deeply involved with the process of reviewing the comments.
And so it’s been very fascinating, and then we are very much eager to see the next phase of where we
will progress from here on out. I’m looking at the clock a little bit, that’s why I look distracted.
Now I want to make sure I don’t shortchange your time because there’s one last topic I’d like to
again pick your brain on, and it’s something that you’ve been in the news about quite a bit lately,
relatively speaking, and it’s also no secret that in our district in our region, that there’s been
an increase in severity and frequency of severe weather events.
And now that sometimes it’s not enough of a link as to why is it that interested in climate risk. So,
and it seems mysterious, there are times I’m in conversations with even our internal team members,
and it takes a bit of a conversation to really fully get us collectively as a supervisory team to
see why are we interested. So today I think our last main question I’d love to hear some of your
thoughts on and sharing with our group here today: why are we interested in climate risk?
Sure, absolutely. So let me start with something that I think is just level-setting. It makes sure
that we’re all fixed on the same ideas. So we’re not studying climate change, we’re not climate
scientists, we’re not studying mitigation strategies for climate change. That’s just not our role
and it’s not our expertise.
What we study at the Federal Reserve System, and this is broadly study across many banks, but as
Mongkha said San Francisco pays considerable attention to this. We define as the risk of severe
weather patterns which have increased over the last decade in the frequency and in their magnitude.
And that’s something that’s just a fact, and then, but its impact on the economy, of course, grows as
they grow in frequency and magnitude. So we’re thinking about, how does that affect the economy, how
does it affect the payment system, and how does it affect the financial system?
Those are our three core responsibilities monetary policy, the economy, the payment system, making
sure it’s sound and stable, particularly the distribution of cash inventory, because if you don’t
get cash inventory, you know your customers wouldn’t be very happy.
But people unfortunately can’t get access to the critical payments method they need in a time of
crisis. In crisis times the demand for cash shoots up, it becomes a much more familiar medium of
exchange for people. We always use it, but it just skyrockets in its use when there’s an event, a
severe weather event or any kind of natural disruption natural disaster or disruption.
So we have to make sure those inventories are in place and we’re doing risk management for those
inventories for resiliency, and then of course the financial system, and here I’ll just share an
A quick one.
Last year when they were the terrible fires in Oregon, I was phoning our colleagues our community
bankers in Oregon and I said where are you worried about your portfolios and things of that sort.
And apart from that, in addition to the people and the communities, and what they said, one
gentleman said, “It’s 1% of my assets under bones that are affected, and it’s 100% of my thoughts
So these are risk issues for banks and for the financial system or generally in the non-banking
sector. And it can be risk from asset revaluation because now they’re in riskier places people are
having trouble in many areas or some areas where this is going on, getting insurance.
So if you can’t get insurance on your property, then the banks holding an asset that as a collateral
that isn’t insured that’s not going to go very well. So there’s all these issues about in for the
economy, about communities they get devastated, they can get rebuilt, and of course for the payment
system where we put the cash, and how we manage the payment system more generally in the electronic
one with the resiliency plan.
So, these are all reasons why we must study these things not just about what’s happening this year
and today, but also what’s going to happen going forward because ultimately, our net, our agreement
in the economy is given to us by Congress. And it’s narrow, it’s monetary policy full-employment
price stability. It’s a safe and sound financial system with other regulators. It’s the payment
system of the safe and sound payment system, but if we didn’t take this seriously and think of it as
a risk, then we would be remiss, so I, my monitor on this is our remit is narrow, but we would be
remiss if we didn’t fully work on the topics so that we can ensure that we’re doing our best for the
American people, not just today but also into the future.
Thanks, thanks for that line of thought Mary I want to record it so I can capture it into our
internal training points to make sure all of us actually really see it so clearly as how you’ve
You can make a bobble head of me.
I think that’d be quite effective I think to get our team’s attention, but I think on that as I was
listening to you speak to how we’re thinking about why we’re interested in climate risk and why it’s
so critical that we study it, it does remind me of how our team was thinking about FinTech several
And I think initially there were questions as to, are we out there supervising, how are banks engaged
with FinTech, like do we have these hidden work programs that we’re out trying to execute against
and, and I think we’ve worked really hard to convey a very similar message which is, I think we
wouldn’t be doing our jobs if we don’t identify the risk landscape. And really study and understand
how it impacts our financial institutions and the communities we serve.
And then we won’t take any type of a change in our regulatory approach until it really becomes
something that’s necessary. It’s part of the need and also, you know, discussed among our regulatory
agencies more broadly. And so I think the points you made were just resonated with me so much as I
think about how we approach the FinTech topic. And in so just you know, thank you, again, Mary for
If I may, I think that’s worth highlighting, you know some people have asked me, Well, why did you
suddenly get involved in this? It’s the things we get involved in have changed over time. So we work
on issues, but anything in the risk landscape for many points in my career has been trade policy.
What does trade policy mean for the risk landscape if that will be on the macroeconomic side? It’s
the FinTech what does it mean for the right risk landscape for the financial system. What does now
climate risk mean for the risk landscape of all the core functions that were part of so we are
This is where the Federal Reserve, where its mandate squarely lies: We need to assess, not just the
economy that we’re working with today, but what the risk landscape for the future economy is as
well, and that includes all of our functions. So, this is just an ongoing area of interest for us
and climate is the current risk that we obviously have to focus on.
Mary I think you bring up a great point I’d like to invite our audience here today, you know in your
free moments the rare free moments that you do have to peruse our Federal Reserve Bank’s public
,I think as a proud employee of SFFed it’s not just a shameless plug, I think as I look on our
website. You will find a lot of the messaging and Mary Sharecare on how we’re thinking about the
different topics beyond the typical just how the economy is doing.
It’s our thoughts on the future of work, our thoughts on financial inclusion as you dig a little bit
deeper are the FinTech team which is part of my group in supervision. We just launched a hope
podcast series Financial Inclusion and Beyond.
Mary actually graciously kicked off the series for us and really dove deeper into why does this
matter to us and why is it an issue that we as, you know for the mission that we’re trying to just
serve and achieve, that we need to pay attention to.
So, you know, I think it’s a simple website, check it out there are some very interesting things, I
think, even as a San Francisco Fed employee, I’m often surprised by what material we have out there.
And I think at a recent event that I engaged in with the California Bankers group.
When I sent the link out of some of the attendees wrote back to me and said they had no idea that we
have so much information out there on our chain of framework for a change or a diversity of DEI
topic that’s also front and center for us.
So there’s my marketing plug Mary, I think I’m personally a huge fan of our revised website so I’d
like to share that with the group here as well. And so John, I know we have a lot of them planned
for Q&A during this session.
So I want to be respectful that we do save enough time for that. But before I turn it over to you, I
see Roberta on the screen and I don’t want to put you on the spot Roberta, but I do want to thank
you, because a secret preparation step I took was I did reach out to our supervisory team has a
strong relationship with the state of Washington.
And we always appreciate that Roberta and her team are very kind and sharing with us on an ongoing
basis. Things that are top of mind for our baking community up in Washington. And so Roberta, thank
you for you. I think validating to some of the topics that I really wanted to tee up today would
resonate and you know just hope you know, I’m sure I’ll circle back with you to get some feedback to
make sure in the future.
No, we do get invited back for another event that the topics we bring are ones that are relevant to
the group here. So with that, John, are there any questions in the chat box that you’d like for Mary
I don’t see any at this point in time, as you mentioned, Roberta, I would like to put a plug in for
Roberta is very good to us, she’s a great regulator. She answers her telephone all the time, all
hours, I call her late at night and she has a new phone and is always willing to work with us. And
it’s been good, it’s a great relationship with a regulator. So thanks for bringing that. Mongkha has
to give me an opportunity to thank Roberta.
I’ve got a question real quick if I could. Hi, Mary, John, we’re one of the two Fed banks in the
state of Washington. I was curious when I was listening to the bio, Mary, that you had done some
work on economic inequality, early, early on, and is there a role that the Fed plays with that?
I mean we’ve got low interest rates causing increases in stock market and housing prices and we hear
about the rich are getting richer. At what point do we need higher interest rates for our homes? I
mean what’s the role for the Fed?
That’s a fantastic question. I appreciate you raising it, so I think this is such an important
question that last year in November of 2020. I wrote a speech, and we can share it with you if
you’re interested, and gave it at UC Irvine.
It was called is the Fed Contributing to Income Inequality, or to inequality, and I took it on. I
said, okay let’s ask about this. And the first thing that I’d like to offer is that inequality is
one word that describes many types of variables that we might look at.
So let me tell you what range. So there’s one of the things I look at as I look at employment
equality or inequality, the access to, you know, the unemployment rate inequalities, wage
inequality, income inequality, and then ultimately wealth inequality consumption inequality as well.
So if you follow those variables, what you’ll see in literally every expansion is that or anytime
interest rates are low, You know this happens in any cycle, is that employment wage income and
consumption inequality, fall, because the wages and employment opportunities, the wage rates, the
income gains, and the consumption gains of the lowest part of our income distribution are the lowest
part of the distributions, they rise faster as the economy gains strength than does the average.
They’re the last to come in but they grow faster at a strong economy is disproportionately affecting
those groups and so those gaps narrow. But wealth inequality rises. So now if you’re the Fed you’ve
got a trade-off.
Do I want to compress wealth, so that I have less wealth inequality which would show up in any kind
of asset valuation, like housing, or the stock market because when the economy expands, even in the
past, when interest rates haven’t been quite as low.
But they were lower than their natural rate as the economy continues to expand, asset valuations rise
including houses and stock market and any other asset you hold. And so, wealth inequality goes up,
while all these other inequalities go down.
So then what do we do. Well, when you look at why is wealth inequality so dramatic, in why does it
increase so much, it’s because the asset allocation is very disproportionately held by a few people.
So, homeownership is an example that and then the value of your home rises as you get more wealthy so
that it goes up more quickly that valuation goes up, access to the stock market is very limited for
people from the middle and below unless you’re in some sort of retirement program to invest for you.
You’re just raw participation in the stock markets, not very common for the bulk of the population.
So that means that these valuations are rising, but only a few relative to the total population are
getting the benefits.
When we have interest rates lower, though, and the economy continues to grow, that affects all
people, and it affects those at the who are more marginalized, more disadvantaged. And historically,
it affects them in a bigger way than affects the average.
So when I got to the end of the speech I said so it’s a trade off. And what do I, what do I think I
would do I?
I cannot trade millions of American workers getting employment for keeping wealth inequality lower,
so that has to be the fiscal side of the house, other places have to figure out how do we get a
better asset allocation across our population, because ultimately, the only way you can buy a stock
or buy a house, is if you have a job, and you have some income, and you have some sense that you can
continue to have that job and income.
And that’s what the accommodative stance, the policy that we have now is doing, it’s ensuring that
all the individuals, the over 8 million people who had a job before the pandemic and don’t have one
now, have the opportunity to come back in, get a job, get income, and then have the potential to buy
But without that, they have no potential to buy an asset. So for me the trade-off is clearly standing
on the side of achieving our dual mandate goals for employment and price stability. We have a lot of
resources on our website about this topic.
There’s other Federal Reserve System banks that that specialize in this too, and the Minneapolis
Fed–you know all of the banks really try to find something where they can be a resource for people
for the system, and the Minneapolis Fed has the–I always forget the name of it and I’m sorry about
this—but it’s really just called the opportunity and inclusive growth center.
But they have a huge amount of resources on these types of topics, and then of course we have a lot
of resources on the 12th district and our own our own work. I’ve done a lot of work on inequality
which I publish regularly on our website as well so I think of us as a good resource, but we can’t
solve the inequality problems on our own.
We set the conditions for things, we don’t actually change the pattern inequality in the country. And
these patterns have been long standing, going back for four decades actually. So more work to be
done. I think it’s a critical issue that our nation as a nation we have to think about because you
know it’s it’s just too challenging for the economy—when people at the lower end don’t have
sufficient resources to participate.
Thank you, I feel like maybe I need a PhD to understand the answer there.
No, no, no, it’s great. No, it’s great, it’s not, there’s no, there’s no right or wrong answer,
There isn’t a right or wrong answer. I don’t mean to plug my own work, I kind of feel embarrassed
about that, but
the speech that I prepared was meant to look like lay out this for someone who doesn’t have a PhD in
So if you have an opportunity to take a look at it, because I think your question is very important,
and I tried
to lay out the reasoning behind these things. But if you if you had found yourself saying, ‘Well I
don’t know I
still don’t get it,’ just give me a call. I also answer my phone.
And John, I think one of our team members put the link in the chat for that speech, and I can attest
probably don’t follow what Mary was saying, either, but I was privy to that speech, so it really
understand a bit of that topic more. So that is of interest to you please do check out the link
that’s in the
chat right now.
There was one question in the chat regarding the CRA and community banks versus credit unions. And I
just want to
find out what your comments are about community banks, providing all that information and doing the
job I think
we do, and credit unions claim to do the same job, but there is no regulation that says that they do
just your thoughts on that.
I’ll answer that this way, which is to say that the credit union community discussions are always a
topic at the
CDIAC meeting I go to and we have credit unions and community banks in the same room talking on the
So I’ve heard all the different debates back and forth about both groups have different views on
here’s how I think of it. I’m not gonna be popular, I already know it, I’m gonna say something
unpopular. But I
think that the time is now for credit unions and community banks to recognize that they’re actually
I get that in this space, but there’s so much more that can be done by smaller entities, and that if
together more collectively, then I think you’ll actually be able to achieve more for our communities
than if we
continue to have the same discussions about credit unions have special treatment they’re not
banks carry a burden.
I get it, it’s a different regulatory environment. And that’s true. The CRA things, you know I can’t
how this will be treated. And this is always what makes me unpopular is: in CDIAC, I think that
discussions are, ‘Okay, I’m trying to think about how far I go here, but I think that it’s trying to
compete in a narrow pie as the narrow slice of the pie.’
And I think with the PPP and the PPP LF showed me, and with the emergence of FinTech partnerships
banks. Tell me, is that the pie slice can be far bigger than what has been looking like what’s going
because the community banks, these relationships have an opportunity that the people now see from
the PPP loan
program–that they have just an opportunity to change the landscape for community banks.
And that’s where I would focus on it, and that’s where I hope CRA will focus on that, so I hope it
actually instead of this burden, it becomes sort of a virtuous cycle that community banks given
value from a
modernized CRA, as opposed to feeling like yes, that’s another regulatory burden that makes our
unfair. Again I recognize that I could be unpopular.
That’s fine. Well, there’s a big difference that credit unions are different than community banks.
And we do very
similar lending, and then taxation is an issue, but I’ll get off that soapbox because you’ve heard
and we talked to our congressman all the time about it.
And hopefully, as a result of PPP, Congress will recognize a little bit more that there is a
community banks and credit unions, and maybe take a look at those tax exemptions in the future.
So okay I’m stepping off my soapbox. One question before we close, and one question I like to ask and
of off from your website that I’ve been looking at, as we’ve been talking as we went through the
On Friday nights I would cringe when my phone would ring at six o’clock saying, ‘Okay, John, we just
had to close
another bank in your state,’ and I just I hated that. So we’ve gotten through that, but gotten
stronger now we
got through a pandemic. We’ve done a great job with PPP loans. And we’re looking at doing a better
lending in our own space again. But in your opinion, how is banking safer now, after these two
incidents of 2008
and the pandemic? Or is it safer?
I think banking is safer than it was prior to the financial crisis for sure. I think that all of the
happened after the financial crisis to shore up capital. I mean, think of where banks came in the
cycle for the
Let’s strip away the increase in deposits and other things that occurred because of the pandemic
programs, just very well capitalized banks coming into the crisis that put us in a far better
position than we
would have been in, if we had been not attending to that.
So one of the big successes of the decade between the financial crisis and the pandemic was the
shoring up of the
financial system on the banking part of it. So all my attention is now turned to, what about the
And thinking about, Where are the risks percolating in that set system that we also have to think
not our regulatory purview? But I do have a voice in these issues about how important those things
financial stability. So that’s where my focus has turned, not taking the eye off the ball in the
at all, but recognizing that we came in really well capitalized.
And that has been a service to the economy. It allows banks to continue to facilitate lending, when
we needed the
most which is during a during a crisis. So I see that as a positive thing.
And when you think about the larger banks and not community banks, I think there’s additional work to
be done on
whether or not we should be using a counter cyclical capital buffer and other things that allow you
to be better
prepared going into a crisis.
But those are things for the future discussions of course. As we come through the crisis, it’s time
to turn our
attention to that. But my look back from the financial crisis which I worked at the Fed during both
things as a staff economist before was that the financial crisis, which was a financial crisis
financial system directly.
This was a pandemic, which is different, but it was just a difference in situation. It makes me feel
the efforts that you’ve all put in over the last decade to get prepared for this.
And I think what the pandemic has done, is that it’s just reminded us all about the importance of the
banking part of the banking system. A big portion of the public focus after the financial crisis was
and systemic risk, and what the pandemic has really highlighted is the incredible on the ground
our community banks.
And so I think it’s an opportunity to market the heck out of that if I, if I may say so, and really
some of that to ensure that there’s a better, a brighter future than you might have forecast for
banking prior to the pandemic, when it wasn’t clear you were saying it but it wasn’t as clear to
the important role you play.
Well, thank you very much. I don’t see any questions out there in the chat room so I will call this
to call it a
close. Mongkha and Mary, I really appreciate your being on our program today, and I will mention to
you that we
are doing a FinTech showcase tomorrow afternoon, or tomorrow morning, late morning. And so if you’re
in coming back and visiting with that listening to that you’re more than welcome to do that so
there’ll be a
shark tank experience so…
Thank you, John, I caught that caught my attention on the agenda so I may take you up on that offer.
I see we have a polling question out there so if you want to answer the polling question we can do
that, and then
give me about two minutes and we’ll start our next program. So thank you very much.