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Outgoing Fed vice-chair Richard Clarida at his 2018 confirmation hearing. Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Richard Clarida, the second highest official at the Federal Reserve, will resign early after new details of his trading activity early in the pandemic were revealed.

  • His term as vice-chair was to end January 31; he will instead step down January 14.

Why it matters: Questionable trading activity by a handful of top officials undermined the central bank's reputation for ethical behavior.

Catch up quick: In late February 2020, with the markets going haywire as coronavirus arrived in the U.S. — and the Fed beginning its efforts to prop up markets and the economy — Clarida bought stocks.

  • When the trades were revealed in 2021, the Fed initially explained them as part of routine portfolio rebalancing.
  • As the New York Times first reported last week, he had also sold the same fund a few days earlier as markets were falling, suggesting the trades were more tactical.

Flashback: Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan and Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren stepped down from their jobs last year after the revelation of their own trading during the same period.

What's next: Fed Chair Jerome Powell faces a Senate confirmation hearing Tuesday for a second term leading the central bank, and could face tough questioning about ethics at the Fed.

The bottom line: Central bankers' credibility depends on public confidence they are acting in the best interest of the economy, not their own portfolios. Trading behavior in 2020 put that credibility at risk for the Fed.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jan 14, 2022 - Energy & Environment

Biden's latest Fed pick signals brewing climate battles

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

President Biden's plan to tap Sarah Bloom Raskin as top banking regulator at the Federal Reserve could intensify the central bank's already growing focus on climate change.

Catch up fast: The news broke Thursday night that Biden will nominate Raskin, a Duke University law professor, for the powerful role of vice chair for supervision.

Rising mortgage rates could slow house price surge

Chart: Axios Visuals

Mortgage rates have jumped to their highest level since early 2020.

Why it matters: The rising cost of home loans could slow the booming American market for residential real estate.

Federal judge blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers

President Biden speaking from Eisenhower Executive Office Building on Jan. 21. Photo: Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A federal judge in Texas blocked the Biden administration from enforcing its coronavirus vaccine mandate for federal workers on Friday, citing the outcome of last week's Supreme Court ruling that nullified the administration's vaccine-or-test requirement for large employers.

Why it matters: It's a blow to President Biden's efforts to increase the U.S.' vaccination rates, though much of the federal workforce has already been vaccinated against the virus.