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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Christmas came early for banks this year: Biden's pick to lead a key regulator backed out.

Driving the news: Saule Omarova, tapped to lead the Office of the Comptroller for Currency, faced an uphill battle in Washington — but the strongest pushback may have been from the banks themselves.

Catch up quick: Rarely do banks’ powerful trade groups publicly campaign against a regulator pick and do so with such a united front as they did with Omarova.

  • Now at least one of those groups is taking a public victory lap.

What they’re saying: Omarova’s withdrawal following opposition “exhibits the importance of community banks to Main Street communities and local economic growth,” the Independent Community Bankers of America said last night.

  • The group, whose members mostly aren’t regulated by the OCC, also laid out why it took the “rare step” of pushing back — namely, an academic paper in which Omarova floated that the government provide consumer banking services via the Fed. (Omarova wouldn’t have had the authority to do that as OCC head.)

The bottom line: The OCC — which supervises banks whose assets make up two-thirds of the banking system — hasn't had a permanent head since May 2020.

Go deeper

Nathan Bomey, author of Closer
Jan 14, 2022 - Economy & Business

Even banks can't outrun inflation

Photo: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images

For the nation’s largest banks, inflation may be too much of a good (for them) thing.

Driving the news: JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup shares fell today — despite delivering solid quarterly revenue and profit — amid concerns that the banks won’t be able to outrun inflation.

1 hour ago - World

Pentagon: 8,500 troops on high alert for possible deployment to eastern Europe

Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has placed 8,500 U.S. troops on "heightened preparedness to deploy" to eastern Europe in case NATO activates its rapid-response force over tensions with Russia, the Pentagon announced Monday.

Why it matters: No decisions have been made to actually deploy U.S. forces, but the heightened alert level will allow the military to rapidly shore up NATO's eastern flank in the event that Russia invades Ukraine. The Pentagon warned that Russia has shown "no signs of de-escalating," and continues to amass troops on Ukraine's borders.

Updated 2 hours ago - Economy & Business

S&P 500 on track for worst-ever start to year

Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

Stocks suffered their steepest drop of the year early Monday, putting the S&P 500 on course for its worst-ever start to a year.

Driving the news: The benchmark S&P 500 dropped for its fifth straight day, with losses nearing 3% in early trading, momentarily putting it on track to fall into a "correction." Some of the steepest losses were recovered in early afternoon trading.