Short answer: He is President Trump’s nominee to replace Mark McWatters on the NCUA board.
Real question: Why him?
Chairman Hood’s description: “Kyle has significant experience in the financial services sector as well as the public policy arena.”
His politics: Currently he works for Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) as the Staff Director for the Economic Policy Subcommittee of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. He was a voting member on the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Advisory Committee on Small and Emerging Companies from 2016-2017. He served on President Donald J. Trump’s transition team in 2016.
Previous professional responsibilities: Executive Director of the Main Street Growth Project and Senior Vice President at Jefferies & Co; a bond trader for Lehman Brothers in New York City, Tokyo and Sydney.
Education: A master’s in business administration from Columbia Business School and a Bachelor of Arts from University of California, Los Angeles.
Personality: Insight to his interpersonal style and philosophy can be found in this Public Square Broadcast from 2016 discussing the book Confessions of an Economic Hitman.
Two Takeaways: Questions and a Lesson Repeated
- The Questions: Kyle is intelligent, a free market proponent and familiar with the Wall Street financial world. His republican orthodoxy includes low taxes, skepticism of government, and strong belief in the role of the free market.
He appears to have no experience with cooperatives or credit unions. An important purpose of cooperative design is as an antidote to market shortcomings. How will his market orthodoxy align with credit unions’ unique role? Will he see them as just another species of financial institution with only a different pedigree? How will his worldly experiences and intellectual skills mesh with NCUA’s bureaucracy? How will he interpret the Board’s “management” responsibility of the Agency as stated in the FCU Act? What does his Main Street slogan “It’s time for Washington to do its job” mean for NCUA?
- The Repeated Lesson: At a time of multiple national crises, the trades and credit union system again failed to support a candidate with experiences and knowledge of the industry. The NCUA Board will have another stranger to the history, personalities and institutions that make credit unions who they are. Also lacking is any exposure to NCUA’s multiple institutional responsibilities and its track record, both good and bad, in carrying these out.
At a time when the three Washington DC based trades are sending daily emails about all the hard work they perform representing credit union interests, this appointment is a reminder of how limited their influence is.
The Need to Speak Up
The NCUA Board will still be composed of three persons whose appointments look like filling “jobs for the boys.” It would be refreshing if just once, the NCUA board had an executive who knew something about the industry, believed in its singular role and was committed to seeing it thrive no matter the circumstances. Until credit union people learn to speak up, their “representatives” in DC will continue playing their insider games.