U.S. Federal Reserve is rethinking how it supervises banks. One option: hire behavioural scientists

The U.S. Federal Reserve is weighing whether to bring on some unconventional employees to help improve bank oversight: behavioural scientists.

The Fed is considering the additions to help plug gaps in supervision exposed by the collapses of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank earlier this year, its top regulator of lenders said on Tuesday. The behavioral scientists could balance teams now dominated by lawyers and economists.

“We are going to conduct a project that looks system-wide at areas where we can enhance our supervisory culture, behavior, practices and tools, and also where we need to change regulation over the next six months,” Michael Barr, the vice chair for supervision, said at an event hosted by the New York Fed. “I am considering implementing a more multidisciplinary lens — including on-boarding behavioural scientists — who will help inform how we move forward on bank supervision.” 

Barr has called for an extensive reevaluation of requirements for U.S. financial firms as regulators said the failures of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank exposed lapses in oversight. In particular, he said in April that the Fed would reevaluate how it supervises and regulates a bank’s management of interest-rate liquidity risks.