WASHINGTON — The Financial Stability Oversight Council “properly determined” that financial distress at MetLife could indeed pose a threat to U.S. financial stability, the government says in a brief submitted to an appeals court Friday.
The brief was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit by lawyers from the Department of Justice. The DOJ is handling the government’s appeal of a lower court decision in March that held that the FSOC’s designation of MetLife as a systemically important financial institution (SIFI) was arbitrary and capricious.
The case is MetLife v. FSOC, No. 16-5086.
The brief is the last to be filed in the case. Oral arguments were scheduled by the court for Oct. 24. None of the members of the three-judge panel that will hear the case have been designated by the Court yet.
Ryan Schoen, an analyst at Washington Analysis, said that in most cases, judges are named to hear a case approximately 30 days before oral arguments are held. That means judges in this case could be named as early as next week.
The government brief was in reply to MetLife’s Aug. 15 filing. In that brief, MetLife challenged the basis for the FSOC’s designation of the company as systemically important, arguing that the FSOC ignored its guidance in designating MetLife.
MetLife also argued in its August brief asking to sustain the lower court decision that in designating MetLife as a SIFI, the FSOC failed to “adhere to its own regulatory standards and the basic precepts of reasoned agency decision-making.”
In reply, the FSOC contends that the bulk of MetLife’s brief argues that the Council acted arbitrarily and capriciously by departing from its interpretive guidance, failing to address material submitted by MetLife, and “employing palpably false assumptions in its analysis.”
But, the government contends in its latest brief, “Even a cursory review of the record demonstrates that these claims are without basis.”
The government brief contends that MetLife “does not come to grips” with the central underpinnings of the analysis the FSOC used in determining to designate MetLife.
For example, the government said in its brief, MetLife has over $900 billion in assets and 359 subsidiaries in 50 countries; “there is no precedent for the resolution of an insurance organization even remotely close to this size, scope, and complexity.”
The brief also addressed MetLife’s arguments that state regulators have a system for dealing with insurers facing financial distress. “While regulation of MetLife’s insurance subsidiaries by state insurance regulators may mitigate some risks, the FSOC explained at length that it leaves a variety of concerns unaddressed,” the brief said.
The FSOC “exhaustively examined” the risks that material financial distress at MetLife could pose to U.S. financial stability, the brief argues.