Kashkari takes on Wall Street from farm-rich Fed region

Sun Apr 3, 2016 3:40pm EDT
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By Olivia Oran

(Reuters) - From his seat atop the Fed's smallest bank, in a region known for fracking, farming and ranching, Neel Kashkari wants to make sure he's heard well beyond the northern plains.

Since becoming president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis this year, the 42-year-old Kashkari has gone on a media blitz, visiting nine major media outlets in two days and creating a Twitter hashtag to promote his view that the biggest U.S. banks should break up.

On Monday, he will host a symposium at his bank in downtown Minneapolis entitled "Ending Too Big To Fail," giving fierce critics of Wall Street's behemoths a platform to present their views.

Becoming the Fed's bad cop is the latest ambitious move in a high-flying career that has taken Kashkari from Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N: Quote), to the Treasury Department at the height of the financial crisis to a run for California governor.

"He's trying to swing way above the weight of the Minneapolis Fed. He didn't come from California just to rub elbows with ranchers in Helena," said Dick Bove, an analyst with Rafferty Capital Markets, referring to the capital of Montana, a state in the Minneapolis Fed's region.

Kashkari's critics argue he is using the "too big to fail" issue as a springboard to higher places of authority. He says he's only working toward prudent financial regulation.

Kashkari's crusade kicked off with a Feb. 16 speech, in which he compared the aftermath of large bank failures to that of a nuclear reactor meltdown. He told Reuters a few days later that the symposium is intended to come up with a plan to prevent big banks from receiving big taxpayer bailouts, the way they did in 2008.

That's a subject he knows intimately.   Continued...

Neel Kashkari speaks on stage during the California Republican Party Spring Convention in Burlingame, California in this file photo taken March 16, 2014.    REUTERS/Stephen Lam/Files