GE Capital, Senator Brown among April meetings for Fed Chair

By Reuters

Jun 26, 2015 07:14 PM EDT

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen met with top executives from GE Capital (GE.N) prior to the company's move to shed financial assets, and she met with a top Democrat who opposes legislation aimed at Fed reform, her April calendar shows.

Yellen's April calendar, released on Friday through a freedom of information request, also included a gathering with UBS (UBSG.VXChairman Axel Weber and a meeting with European Central Bank President Mario Draghi.

The Fed chair's calendar gets heavier-than-normal scrutiny in part because it must be obtained through freedom of information requests, and because investors and Fed watchers scrutinize who she meets with for any signs of where she is leaning on issues related to policy and politics - even though the monthly schedule has scant detail.

Yellen had lunch and a separate phone call with U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, and she attended Lew's regulatory round table in April, the calendar shows.

General Electric announced on April 10 that it planned to shed $275 billion in assets from its financial division, GE Capital. GE Capital had been designated a "systemically important financial institution" by the U.S. Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC), where the Fed holds a powerful role. The so-called "SIFI" designation meant GE capital was subject to enhanced regulation by the Fed, a label that companies try to avoid due to tougher capital rules, elevated scrutiny and higher compliance costs.

Yellen met with GE Capital executive management on April 1 in the Fed's "Special Library," the calendar says.

On April 15, the Fed chair met with Thomas Jordan of the Swiss National Bank. The Swiss National Bank stunned markets in January when it ditched the cap on the Swiss franc, leading to a sharp spike in its currency.

On April 21, Yellen met with U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, the top Democrat on the Senate Banking Committee. The meeting occurred as Brown and fellow Democrats were awaiting draft legislation from the committee's chairman, Richard Shelby.

Shelby, an Alabama Republican, made clear in previous hearings that he aimed to propose structural changes to the Fed as part of a broader financial regulation reform bill. The bill passed through the committee, with Brown and all other Democrats on the panel voting against it.

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