Paul Volcker

Former Federal Reserve chairman Paul A. Volcker and his nonprofit The Volcker Alliance on Monday called for a consolidation of the “highly fragmented, outdated, and ineffective” financial regulatory system to minimize systemic risk that could lead to the next financial crisis.

The recommendations were outlined in the report, “Reshaping the Financial Regulatory System: Long Delayed, Now Crucial,” introduced by Volcker at a press conference at the National Press Club.

“Even as America continues its long climb back from the financial crisis, it is all too clear that the federal financial regulatory system needs restructuring to deal effectively with the threats to financial stability,” Volcker said.

“We urge Congress, the administration, existing regulatory agencies, and financial institutions themselves to step up to the needed debate and set out an agreed framework for reform suitable for the 21st century.”

The group’s recommendations include:

  • Merging the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to create a new, independent investor protection and capital market conduct regulator.
  • Establishing a Systemic Issues Committee to vote on designations of systemically-important financial institutions and monitor their risky activities and practices. The committee would be composed of the Fed chairman, the chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the chair of the newly-created “Investor Protection-Capital Market Conduct Regulator,” the director of the Office of Financial Research, and a state insurance commissioner designated by the state insurance commissioners.
  • Moving the Office of Financial Research out of the Treasury Department and making it an independent entity, with its director continuing to be appointed by the president and subject to Senate confirmation.

An Associated Press story on Yahoo! Finance said that more than two dozen proposals to consolidate the federal banking regulatory system have been advanced since World War II, without success.

“Critics like Volcker say the patchwork system breeds ‘regulatory arbitrage,’ allowing banks and other financial institutions to shop for the regulator that will be the most lenient,” the AP wrote. “Turf fights among agencies, conflicting priorities, and overlapping authorities prevail, they say.”

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