#FSOC

12 06, 2024

FedFin on: AI Implementation

2024-06-12T14:46:06-04:00June 12th, 2024|The Vault|

Although pressed by Congress to reach conclusions about AI’s risk in the financial sectors, Treasury is following up the worries in the most recent FSOC report with only a request for information (RFI) from the public.  The RFI follows an Executive Order (EO) from President Biden in 2023 instituting a “whole-of-government” program to identify best-use and high-problem aspects of AI from both a private- and -public sector perspective….

The full report is available to retainer clients. To find out how you can sign up for the service, click here and here.…

20 05, 2024

Karen Petrou on: How FSOC Enables Systemic Risk

2024-05-20T11:37:05-04:00May 20th, 2024|The Vault|

One can and should debate the extent to which nonbank mortgage companies (NBMCs) are as systemically-risky as FSOC says they are.  But it’s indisputable that, if FSOC believed what it said, then the paltry and politically-improbable recommendations it announced are proof of only one unhappy conclusion:  all FSOC can meaningfully think to do when it sees a systemic risk is figure out how to bail it out.  This is certainly what taxpayers have learned the hard way and investors have come to expect.  Or, as humorist Dave Barry pointed out after the mid-March systemic deposit bailout, “Eventually the financial community calms down, soothed by the reassuring knowledge that American taxpayers will, as always, step up and cheerfully provide billions of dollars to whichever part of the financial community screwed up this time.”

As we noted in our detailed analysis of FSOC’s report, the Council lays out the rapid-fire growth of NBMCs, the role regulatory arbitrage played in pushing banks to the sidelines of the residential-mortgage business that once defined so many charters, and the direct taxpayer and resulting systemic risk of NBMC liquidity shortfalls.  Asked about this at Wednesday’s HFSC hearing, Acting Comptroller Hsu said that NBMC stress could lead to “widespread contagion risk” that could prove “severe.”

Could NBMCs be pulled off the brink under current law?  In a little-noticed aside, FSOC says no because NBMCs lack the assets that would make viable orderly liquidation by the FDIC under its systemic authority even if the FDIC finally figured out …

13 05, 2024

FedFin on: FSOC’s Analytical Methodology

2024-05-13T16:52:29-04:00May 13th, 2024|The Vault|

Never Mind…

When FSOC released its systemic-designation methodology last year, the Council made it clear that nonbank mortgage companies faced top-down federal regulation.  Never mind.  As with so many other FSOC-declared systemic risks – see, for example, stablecoins – federal regulators have decided not to use the prudential tools they have in favor of asking for statutory change they know they won’t get.

The full report is available to subscription clients. To find out how you can sign up for the service, click here.

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13 05, 2024

Karen Petrou: Why FSOC is Right to Revisit FMU Designation

2024-05-13T09:25:12-04:00May 13th, 2024|The Vault|

In the fog in which FSOC chooses to nestle, it was easy to miss an important indication briefly mentioned in the meeting’s readout:  the Council is “reviewing” current financial-market utility (FMU) designations.  Firm-specific and activity-and-practice designations usually get all the airtime.  So it was again on Friday, when FSOC also decided to back off its plan just last November (see Client Report FSOC29) to designate nonbank mortgage banking.  The Council in fact mostly backs off much of what it promises – no wonder Rohit Chopra calls it a “book-report club.”  Precedent thus suggests the FMU threat is idle, but I’ll bet it’s not.

Why?  The FMUs the Council is reviewing were made in 2012 very shortly after Dodd-Frank was enacted in 2010 and told it to do so.  FMUs are to supplement firm designation because one clear lesson of the 2008 crisis is that market infrastructure matters at least as much as very big banks and a nonbank or two.  FMU designations are thus designed to ensure proper functioning of the “clearing and settlement of payment, securities, and other financial transactions” (see FSM Report PAYMENT11). Designated payment companies are subject to Federal Reserve systemic supervision and securities and derivatives entities fall under either the SEC or CFTC.  Unlike the Council’s extremely-controversial designation at about the same time of four systemically-important financial institutions, the FMU designations then and ever since have drawn little scrutiny and no political dispute.  Indeed, when Donald Trump’s Treasury led a 2019 rewrite of the …

29 01, 2024

Karen Petrou: The Risks New Capital Rules Can’t Cure

2024-01-29T09:29:45-05:00January 29th, 2024|The Vault|

Part one of my end-game assessment was last week’s memo laying out the growing odds that the agencies will be forced to issue a new proposal which hopefully makes better sense than the current one.  Part two here points out how the agencies have so tightly wrapped themselves around the capital rule’s axle that they are unable to see how many even more critical challenges are going unaddressed.  Risks overlooked are often risks even the toughest capital rules cannot contain because the cost of new capital rules actually contributes to the arbitrage and risk-migration accelerating the pace of systemic-risk transformation.  This is a negative feedback loop if ever there were one.

The new capital rules will be outdated by the time they are finalized because financial institutions of all persuasions will take advantage of every bit of regulatory-arbitrage opportunity within and across borders.  That the banking agencies and FSOC aren’t even thinking about how this might happen makes it still more likely that they will.  This is not to say that no changes to capital rules are warranted.  Some changes are overdue, but capital rules crafted in a vacuum will not stand up to real-world circumstance.

The collective book reports issued by the Federal Reserve in its semi-annual systemic forecast and the FSOC’s annual reports are remarkably backward-looking.  Focused more on not saying anything too frightening and bolstering ongoing initiatives, these tomes have long been and sadly still are poor auguries of risks to come perhaps all too soon.

Even …

4 12, 2023

Karen Petrou: Why Curbing Banks Won’t Curtail Private Credit

2023-12-04T11:03:15-05:00December 4th, 2023|The Vault|

Last Wednesday, Sens. Brown and Reed wrote to the banking agencies pressing them to cut the cords they believe unduly bind big banks to private-credit companies.  The IMF and Bank of England have also pointed to systemic-risk worries in this sector, as have I.  Still, FSOC is certainly silent and perhaps even sanguine.  This is likely because FSOC is all too often nothing more than the “book-report club” Rohit Chopra described, but it’s also because it plans to use its new systemic-risk standards to govern nonbanks outside the regulatory perimeter by way of cutting the banking-system connections pressed by the senators.  Nice thought, but the combination of pending capital rules and the limits of FSOC’s reach means it’s likely to be just thought, not the action needed ahead of the private-credit sector’s fast-rising systemic risk.

One might think that banks would do all they can to curtail private-credit competitors rather than enable them as the senators allege and much recent data substantiate.  But big banks back private capital because big banks will do the business they can even when regulators block them from doing the business they want.  Jamie Dimon for one isn’t worried that JPMorgan will find itself out in the cold.

Of course, sometimes banks should be forced out of high-risk businesses.  There is some business banks shouldn’t do because it’s far too risky for entities with direct and implicit taxpayer backstops.  This is surely the case with some of the wildly-leveraged loans private-credit companies …

31 10, 2023

FedFin Assessment: New White House AI Policy Promises New KYC Requirements, Banking-Agency Guidance

2023-10-31T13:33:25-04:00October 31st, 2023|The Vault|

In this report, we assess the detailed executive order (EO) issued late Monday afternoon after days of private showings of selected versions. Much in the EO’s binding provisions address near-term AI-related threats to national-security, pandemic-risk, and infrastructure vulnerabilities and much related to AI-related opportunities derive from internal procedures Mr. Biden urges the federal government to develop along with workforce protections and biomedical research. The EO also reiterates the Administration’s values and presses agencies to work still harder on voluntary industry standards that many have been drafting or disagreeing on since the White House and Congress first called attention to AI risk. What comes of these provisions in the EO remains to be seen, but the Administration has also used tools such as the Defense Production Act’s authorization for direct economic intervention to mandate an array of new AI commercial and technology safeguards.

The full report is available to retainer clients. To find out how you can sign up for the service, click here and here.…

18 07, 2023

FedFin on: MMF Redemption Fees, Liquidity-Risk Mitigation

2023-07-19T16:52:22-04:00July 18th, 2023|The Vault|

The SEC has significantly revised its proposed MMF-reform standards, eliminating a controversial swing-pricing approach to reduce first-mover advantage in favor of new redemption fees at institutional prime and tax-exempt funds.  These and most other funds now also come under stiff new liquidity requirements, which may combine to impose new and costly disciplines that may enhance the relevant appeal of bank deposits without early-redemption risk.  Changes in MMF liquidity requirements may also alter demand for commercial paper, municipal obligations, bank debt, and ….

The full report is available to retainer clients. To find out how you can sign up for the service, click here and here.…

20 06, 2023

Karen Petrou: Our Baffled, Befuddled Central Bank

2023-06-20T14:47:39-04:00June 20th, 2023|The Vault|

After SVB failed, Jay Powell told his monthly press conference that he found this “baffling” even though the Fed was the lead bank supervisor and the only one charged with its BHC’s oversight.  At Wednesday’s presser, Mr. Powell took a different, but still-indefensible tack avoiding responsibility for a looming threat by stoutly denying his ability to do anything about nonbank financial-stability risk.  However, the Board has an express mandate under the Dodd-Frank Act to address it.  To be sure, the Fed does not have direct regulatory authority over nonbanks as it now remembers it did over SVB.  But to say that the Fed’s only power is over banks as he Wednesday did is at best befuddled.  A baffled, befuddled central bank is a national – indeed global – hazard.

Of course, perhaps Mr. Powell isn’t befuddled and instead wants to ensure that a crisis he claims the Fed can’t avert isn’t one that damages its already-scant credibility.  This wouldn’t be the first time the Fed defended itself at the expense of sound policy, but that makes it no less inexcusable.  I’ll have more to say about this in a talk on the 28th, but last week’s memo looks at just one threat to financial stability and what the Fed could readily do to combat it.

The threat comes from the $1.4 trillion private-credit market’s ambition to use its regulatory-arbitrage advantage to morph into a $40 trillion fixed-income sector.  Mr. Powell says all he can do …

8 06, 2023

FedFin on: Under Their Thumb and What a Big Thumb It Is

2023-06-14T16:20:52-04:00June 8th, 2023|The Vault|

As we will detail in a forthcoming in-depth report, the banking agencies’ new “guidance” on third-party vendors essentially brings all nonbank counterparties with whom banking organizations deal under the agencies’ enforcement thumb. As a result, nonbank mortgage companies, MIs, credit enhancers, and tech providers and even the GSEs – Home Loan Banks included – will be forced at the least to answer a lot of questions from the banking entities with whom they do pretty much any kind of business. And, if the agencies don’t like the answers, they now assert that they will issue enforcement orders not just against banks, but also nonbank entities to ensure they comply with the full panoply of safety-and-soundness standards referenced in the guidance along with ensuring appropriate consumer protection.

The full report is available to subscription clients. To find out how you can sign up for the service, click here.

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