Chamber Calls for Stricter Rules on Systemic Risk Designations on Insurers

By Ian Katz | December 3, 2013
Jacob Lew
Treasury Secretary

Jacob Lew
Treasury Secretary

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is calling for rules that would make it more difficult for a group of regulators to subject financial companies to stricter oversight.

A vote of three-quarters of the Financial Stability Oversight Council should be required for designating non-banks as systemically important, the chamber’s Center for Capital Markets Competitiveness said in a report today. A two-thirds vote, including the Treasury secretary’s, is now required.

The chamber also recommended designated companies be overseen by their main regulator and not the Federal Reserve, as current rules state.

The country’s largest business lobby urged increased transparency on the methods the council uses to evaluate companies and said it wants better data collection by the Office of Financial Research, a Treasury Department unit that assists the FSOC.

“Companies facing potential designation have little clarity about the lines between reasonable and unreasonable risk-taking, what steps they can take to avoid crossing the line to designation, what designation would mean if they are designated, or what steps they could take in the future to become undesignated,” the chamber said in the report.

Treasury spokeswoman Suzanne Elio declined to comment.

The council, which is led by Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew and includes Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke, is authorized under the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010 to identify companies that could threaten stability. The Fed can impose on those firms tighter capital, leverage and liquidity rules, and demand measures including stress testing for crisis scenarios and plans for winding them down should they start to fail.

In the three years since its formation, the FSOC has designated three non-banks as systemically important financial institutions: insurer American International Group Inc., General Electric Co.’s finance unit and Prudential Financial Inc.

–Editors: Brendan Murray, Kevin Costelloe

 

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