Fed's top attorney Alvarez to retire

Fed's top attorney Alvarez to retire
© Getty Images

The Federal Reserve’s top attorney and key figure to the central bank’s bailout and Wall Street reform efforts will retire at the end of the year.

The Fed announced Wednesday that Scott Alvarez, the central bank’s general counsel, would be stepping down later this year after 36 years at the institution.

"Scott advised successive Chairs, including myself, with deep expertise and utmost integrity," said Chair Janet L. Yellen in a statement. "I am enormously grateful for his wise counsel, calmness and good humor during times of stress, and, above all, his intense dedication to the public interest served by the Federal Reserve."

Alvarez served as the head of the Fed’s Legal Division for 12 years, meaning he served as the top legal expert for both Yellen and her predecessor, Ben Bernanke. During that time, Alvarez helped the Fed navigate the financial crisis and resulting bailouts, as well as the implementation of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law.

Alvarez also served as the general counsel to the Federal Open Market Committee, making him the primary legal presence for the Fed when it came to monetary policy as well.

Alvarez was central to much of the Fed’s operations, but did not have an extensive public profile. While Fed governors and members of the Federal Reserve Board frequently spoke publicly about their thoughts on the economy, financial regulation, and a host of other issues, Alvarez was a behind-the-scenes operator.

However, he was thrust into the spotlight in 2015, after Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenMichael Moore: Russia, Stormy Daniels stories are 'shiny keys to distract us' Fix the flaw in financial self-regulation Power struggle threatens to sink bank legislation MORE (D-Mass.) pressed Yellen at a hearing about whether Alvarez was committed to implementing all parts of Dodd-Frank. She noted some of his comments at a legal convention where he suggested some parts of the law should be revisited.

Warren’s ire led to a strong defense of Alvarez from Yellen, who called him a key expert to help the Fed’s work.