(Bloomberg) -- Turns out the man responsible for the health of the U.S. financial system is a Star Trek fan.

Randal Quarles, the Federal Reserve’s vice chairman for supervision, was giving an otherwise dry speech in Washington when he paused for a suitable metaphor to describe the trade-offs in stress testing big banks. The one he came up with caught his audience of earthlings at the Brookings Institution a little off guard.

“It’s not like the Will of Landru from the old Star Trek and they’re only doing what the Fed says,” a straight-faced Quarles offered on Friday. He was explaining the risks of giving too much insight into the Fed’s risk models and creating an incentive for banks to let down their internal guard as a result.

Discussion moderator and Brookings Senior Fellow Martin Baily confessed he’s missed that episode. Quarles, a former private-equity executive, assured him “I can do them all.”

Landru, according to the Star Trek website, was an omniscient computer on the planet Beta III with a powerful hold on its people -- until Captain James T. Kirk put a stop to it.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alister Bull in Washington at abull7@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Murray at brmurray@bloomberg.net, Jeff Kearns

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