Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta President and CEO Raphael W. Bostic speaks at a European Financial Forum event in Dublin, Ireland on February 13, 2019.
Clodagh Kilcoyne | Reuters
The Federal Reserve is looking at trades that Raphael Bostic, the head of the central bank’s Atlanta district, made during limited periods.
In the wake of revelations that there have been several incidents over the past few years in which Bostic̵[ads1]7;s investment activity violated Fed restrictions and blackout periods, the central bank said its office of inspector general would review the matter further. There were also incidents where Bostic misreported his assets.
Fed Chairman Jerome Powell “has asked the Office of the Inspector General of the Federal Reserve Board to initiate an independent review of President Bostic’s financial disclosures,” a Fed spokesman said. “We look forward to the results of their work and will accept and take appropriate action based on their findings.”
Trading by Fed officials over the past few years has been a hot-button issue. Revelations that several officials had been involved in investment moves at a time when the Fed was taking steps to support markets preceded the early retirement of two regional presidents, Eric Rosengren of Boston and Robert Kaplan of Dallas.
There were also revelations that trades by Powell himself had been involved in trades during blackout periods in 2020. Actions by former Vice Chairman Richard Clarida were also questioned, although the inspector general cleared both officials of wrongdoing.
The controversy also led to a revised policy that severely limits the moves Fed officials can make.
Bostic said that in his case, the violations were not intentional and occurred because of his reliance on a third-party manager who handled his investments. He said his investments are in accounts that neither he nor his investment adviser can manage.
In a statement issued along with his amended disclosure forms, Bostic apologized for the controversy.
“I recognize that it is my responsibility to understand and comply with all obligations of this office,” he said. “I want to be clear: I have at no time knowingly authorized or completed a financial transaction based on non-public information or with any intent to conceal or circumvent my obligations of open and accountable reporting.”
He also noted in the statement that his holdings of Treasurys in 2021 exceeded the limits outlined in Fed policy. The Fed sets interest rates using its fed funds rate, which generally has a close correlation with Treasury yields.
On top of previous regulations in place, the Fed in February added restrictions on what members can do. The new regulations prohibit top officials from holding individual stocks, bonds and cryptocurrencies, along with other assets. Those rule changes also mandated a review by both the Atlanta district and the Fed’s main DC operation, which led to the disclosure of Bostic’s filing errors.
“We welcome this review and will cooperate fully to ensure that this matter is effectively resolved,” the Atlanta Fed said in a statement.
Controversy over the investment moves by Fed officials struck after reports, first in the Wall Street Journal, that some members had engaged in trading around the time policymakers considered taking action in the early days of the Covid pandemic.
The Fed ended up cutting benchmark interest rates to near zero and implementing an aggressive bond-buying program that added nearly $5 trillion to the central bank’s balance sheet.
“I sincerely regret if my actions raise questions about my standards, conduct or motivation, Federal
Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s systems and processes to maintain the public trust, or the Federal Reserve’s commitment to transparency and accountability in fulfilling its mission,” Bostic said.