WASHINGTON The nation may not know who its President-elect is, but the Shadow Financial Regulatory Committee has some ideas about what his legislative priorities should be.
The group of academics specializing in financial services concluded its quarterly meeting on Monday with the release of its quadrennial open letter to the winner of the presidential election and to Congress. The committee urged the incoming administration to focus on, among other things, refining several elements of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act and limiting the government-sponsored enterprises subsidies.
At the top of the committees list is the recommendation that Congress revisit the Gramm-Leach-Bliley to remove what the committee calls an artificial distinction between the worlds of banking and commerce. The acts current structure, in which the Federal Reserve Board and the Treasury Department determine what lines of business are financial and prohibit financial services companies from engaging in those that are not is certain to be outflanked by market developments and should be scrapped, the committee wrote.
At a press conference, American Enterprise Institute fellow Peter J. Wallison also urged Congress to revisit the laws privacy provisions, recommending that rather than allow states to shape their own privacy rules, it adopt a single law that will cover all of the privacy considerations it deems appropriate.
The alternative, he said, is a different set of privacy requirements in each state, a situation that could be confusing to consumers and expensive for financial institutions.
On the subject of GSEs, the committee said that to reduce potential systemic risk arising from banks investing too heavily in debt issued by the enterprises, banks be required to reveal the extent of that investment in their call reports. The committee also recommended that such investments be subject to a limit analogous to the current loan-to-one-borrower restriction, which is 15% of capital.
In a separate letter to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the committee responded to the agencys options paper, which dealt with potential reforms to the deposit insurance system.
It recommended that the FDIC drop the insistence on a reserve ratio of 1.25% of all insured deposits. Speaking for the committee at the press conference, Paul M. Horvitz, a professor at the University of Houston, argued that because banks are currently charged an assessment whenever the fund is subject to a loss, risk of loss has been privatized.
The committee also recommended that any losses to the bank and thrift insurance be replenished by the industry in payments that could be extended over several years. In the event of a loss, the committee argued, banks would not be required to make up the difference in a single year, but could pay the fund gradually.