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Financial Planning > Behavioral Finance

Geithner: Stop Regulatory Arbitrage

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Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said Thursday that the Obama administration is about to outline a set of “relatively concrete” proposals on financial regulatory reform.

The proposals should be out before Geithner testifies on the issue before the House Financial Services Committee March 26, Geithner said.

Geithner made his comments in an appearance before the Senate Budget Committee.

Going forward, a revised regulatory scheme must protect against the threat that weakness in one financial institution may cause damage to the entire financial system, Geithner said.

Geithner said one of the problems with the current financial regulatory system is that financial institutions were allowed to choose their regulators and design products in a way that permitted the products to avoid regulation.

It is important to create a new regulatory structure that prevents “this kind of regulatory arbitrage,” Geithner said.

Geithner also:

- Said Congress and regulators “need to be very careful” when looking at mark-to-market accounting rules to avoid doing anything that would erode people’s confidence in their ability to assess risk.

- Reported that the Federal Reserve Board is considering “how to release” a list of counterparties to financial transactions involving American International Group Inc., New York. Many members of the Senate Banking Committee asked for the counterparty list last week during a hearing on AIG. Releasing the list involves legal limitations, Geithner said.

The March 26 hearing that Geithner mentioned is part of a series of four hearings dealing with “creating a strongly-empowered systemic risk regulator” that Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, has scheduled.

The committee will hold the hearings before Congress leaves for a two-week recess April 3.

In addition to the March 26 hearing, the committee will hold hearings March 17, March 20 and March 24.

The March 17 hearing will focus on AIG.

In the Senate, Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., will hold a hearing March 17 on insurance regulation. Witnesses at that hearing likely will include representatives from the insurance industry. Insurance regulators will testify at another hearing March 31, officials say.


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