House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank introduced a revised draft bill late Tuesday that would give the Federal Reserve Board the power to oversee systemically important companies, but beef up a proposed interagency council to advise the central bank.
Although the Fed would write and enforce new regulations for systemic firms, the council would advise Congress on financial regulation, monitor companies and activities that should be subject to tougher standards and issue formal recommendations that particular agencies should adopt. In the event of a dispute among agencies, the bill would allow the council to make a binding decision.
Under the original proposal by the Obama administration, the interagency council could have advised the Fed or other regulators, but had no power over them.
The Frank bill shies away from making hardline declarations about what makes an institution systemically significant, instead saying the council should consider, among other things, asset size, reliance on short-term funding and off-balance sheet holdings.
The bill also would require any financial firm that is systemically significant to comply with the standards imposed on bank holding companies. Had that provision been in place during the financial crisis, it could have reined in firms such as American International Group Inc. and Lehman Brothers.
Among other things, the Fed would stand to gain powers to impose risk-based capital requirements, leverage limits, liquidity and concentration requirements. The central bank could also recommend that the primary federal regulator for any subsidiary of a holding company raise capital standards and take other actions. If the agency elects to buck the Fed, it must provide the central bank and the council a written explanation within 60 days.
The bill also would give the government resolution powers.
Under the bill, the Securities and Exchange Commission, Fed and appropriate federal regulatory agency must recommend that a firm be placed into receivership. At that point, the Treasury would appoint the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. to handle the receivership and appropriate actions to be taken.
The resolution process would be paid for by proceeds from the sale of the institution or any of its assets as well as a fee charged to all institutions with more than $10 billion in assets after the receivership is completed.
This story has been reprinted with permission from American Banker.
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