WASHINGTON — Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said Wednesday that the Federal Reserve Board would be the "natural place" for the systemic risk regulator, appearing to put him in line with key lawmakers.
During a press conference, Geithner said he planned to testify in more detail within a few weeks before Congress and present an outline of the administration's regulatory reform plan.
Though Geithner has previously endorsed giving the Fed power over systemically important payment systems when he was the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, his comments Tuesday were his first on the issue as part of the Obama administration.
"What's really important is that we have a strong accountability vesting in an institution that has the capacities and the talent to bring the level of consolidated supervision necessary to make sure these major institutions don't pose this kind of risk in the future," Geithner said. "The Fed is a natural place for that responsibility."
Consensus is building to make the Fed the systemic risk regulator. The idea has already gained the support of House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, though Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd has appeared more reluctant. (See related story).
During his press conference, Geithner offered a quick outline of his plan for regulatory reform.
"The president has said the critical part of reform is to make sure the major institutions, those that pose potential risk to the stability of the system, are brought within a much stronger framework of oversight with much more effective, carefully designed constraints on leverage," he said. "We want to bring the critical markets within a framework of oversight that's commensurate with the risk those markets pose."
In comments earlier at the White House, President Obama emphasized that any regulatory revamp would be international in scope.
"We also have already been in discussions with the relevant members of the congressional committees to talk about how we can move forward on a regulatory framework," Obama said.
"That's not just something that we want to do domestically, but we ought to make sure that we're coordinating with the other G-20 countries."
In an outline on financial reform presented at the press conference, the Treasury Department also called for a stronger framework for capital requirements to build capital in good times and draw down as a buffer in bad times.