The current turmoil in the bond insurance industry shows that insurers may need the option of choosing to be regulated by a federal agency, a key lawmaker said Monday.
Rep. Paul Kanjorski, D-Pa., chairman of the Capital Markets Subcommittee of the House Financial Services Committee, made his comments in a signed article in Roll Call, a Capitol Hill newspaper. He aired his views in advance of a Thursday hearing dealing with state oversight of bond insurers.
The subcommittee plans to look at bond insurers’ decision to expand their business to include selling guarantees on structured credit insurance products.
The subcommittee has primary oversight over financial services regulation in the House and would be a potential starting point for congressional efforts to create an optional federal charter program.
Kanjorski writes in the Roll Call article that the “widespread effects of the bond insurers’ ratings downgrades … provide the strongest argument yet for why a federal insurance regulator may be needed.”
While “I long have seen the potential benefits that such a charter could bring to certain sectors of the industry, I have remained hesitant to view this idea as the solution to all of its problems,” Kanjorski writes.
But, “in addition to overseeing insurers, a federal regulator could have the important mandate of monitoring national financial stability,” Kanjorski writes.
“At the very least,” Kanjorski writes, “the federal government should collect data on the insurance industry and have the information to foresee the national impacts that the insurance industry has on the economic well-being of our country.”
Kanjorski says he will continue to hold hearings on the insurance industry and work toward regulatory reform.
During these proceedings, “I expect discussions about creating a federal regulator to continue,” Kanjorski writes. “It clearly is one potentially effective solution to a very complex problem.”