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Janet Yellen Isn't Going After Wells Fargo - Yet

by Jon Marino, CNBC / / Source: CNBC.com
John Stumpf, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Wells Fargo. Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images
John Stumpf, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Wells Fargo. Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

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It doesn't sound like Janet Yellen thinks Wells Fargo should be broken up.

Yet, at least.

John Stumpf, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Wells Fargo. Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images
John Stumpf, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Wells Fargo. Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

At a time when Wall Street critics are calling for the resignation of Wells Fargo's CEO, or the breakup of the bank, or both, the Fed chair didn't suggest either when pressed repeatedly by questioners at Wednesday afternoon's Federal Reserve press conference.

"Just because an organization is large, doesn't mean it can't live up to the standards" set by federal regulators, she said, responding to a reporter who asked whether she thought Wells Fargo and other large banks may need to be broken up if they cannot adhere to U.S. regulations. "It may be challenging, and that's what we expect."

Yellen told another questioner that abuses that hurt consumers ultimately present "safety and soundness issues" at big banks, but it sounds like the Fed is far away from taking any regulatory action directed at Wells Fargo — at least, for now.

"I can't really at this point give specifics on that," she concluded.

Related: Wells Fargo CEO to Forfeit $41M in Stock Options

It's been a very busy week for Wells Fargo in Washington. Earlier this week, in a Senate hearing on the practices of its consumer banking unit, the bank's CEO John Stumpf was taken to task by Democrats including Sen. Elizabeth Warren,who called for the CEO's resignation.

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