Public officials should serve the public – not stock portfolios


By Sen. Sherrod Brown


Americans need to be able to trust that government officials are working in the best interest of the public – not abusing their positions for their own personal gain.

Over the past few months, we’ve learned that officials at the Federal Reserve have been buying and selling individual stocks, at the same time as the Fed was taking extraordinary action that could affect global markets – the same markets they were trading in. Reporting in September revealed that two Federal Reserve bank presidents were trading stocks during the pandemic. And we’ve since learned that members of the Federal Reserve board also traded last year.

The Federal Reserve is the most important institution in our economy – one economist called it the Supreme Court of the U.S. economy. People need to have confidence they’re acting in the best interest of Americans’ jobs and paychecks.

That’s why I introduced the Ban Conflicted Trading at the Fed Act. It would prohibit all Federal Reserve Board Governors and all Reserve Bank Presidents and Vice Presidents from trading individual stocks. Officials would have six months to divest their individual holdings, and after that they would be subject to substantial fines if they fail to comply with the ban.

The bill would build on the Ban Conflicted Trading Act that I’ve introduced the past few Congresses – that bill would ban Members of Congress from trading stocks and profiting off their positions.

It’s simple: public officials – whether at the Fed or in Congress – should serve the American people, not their own stock portfolios.

It’s a principle I’ve always lived by – I don’t own individual stocks, because it’s the right thing to do. My job is to serve the people of Ohio. Members of Congress and officials at the Fed all have access to information about different industries and companies that ordinary Americans investing for their retirement don’t. And these public officials are making decisions that could affect the investments they are trading.

People need to be able to have confidence that policymakers are making decisions based on what’s best for the economy, not what’s best for their own bottom lines.

Sherrod Brown (D-OH) is a U.S. Senator for Ohio. He can be reached at 1-800-896-6446. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.

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