Md. financial regulator joins Federal Reserve board

Maryland's top financial regulator is joining the board of the Federal Reserve.

Sarah Bloom Raskin was confirmed as a Fed governor late Wednesday by the U.S. Senate, a move that was expected. Janet Yellen, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, was given the go-ahead to join the board of governors as vice chair.

Raskin, the state's commissioner of financial regulation for the past three years, is resigning from that job effective Friday. Her deputy, Mark Kaufman, has been nominated for the commissioner position, a job that requires approval by the state Senate.

"It's certainly a great honor," said Raskin, 49, who lives in Takoma Park. "I'm certainly thrilled about the challenge of the new position, but I'm always going to treasure the years I spent working in Maryland."

Popular with both consumer advocates and bankers, Raskin ran the state financial regulation division during fraught economic times. Her staff went after foreclosure-rescue scam artists, shone a spotlight on an imploding debt-collection law firm and helped close a loophole used by payday lenders to charge steep fees.

State Sen. Jamie Raskin, her husband, said she knew the Senate would be voting on presidential nominees Wednesday. The couple stayed up late to see it unfold, with the final tally coming about 10:15 p.m.

"We turned on C-SPAN2, and for several hours it was like watching paint dry," he said Thursday. "Fortunately, somebody had told us that Sarah's name would actually appear as a number. When 1,009 went through — there was unanimous consent — the living room exploded in applause."

She was one of three nominated for a seat on the board by President Barack Obama in April. The wait isn't over for one member of that group.

Peter Diamond, an economics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, faces a vote by the banking committee before the full Senate can consider whether to confirm him. Senate Republicans have argued that he doesn't have enough background in macroeconomic policy.

Raskin — who worked for Promontory Financial Group, which advises banks, before taking the state job — was named consumer advocate of the year by the Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition in 2009. Marceline White, the coalition's executive director, said Raskin provided "a reasoned voice around foreclosure and also around payday lending."

White said the regulator understands not only banking policy but also how the financial world intersects with Americans' daily lives.

"That's the best kind of person you can ask for at the Federal Reserve — someone who is going to address and be aware of the needs of the market, but really make sure that the marketplace solutions work for folks on Main Street," White said.

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