Last week, the large US life insurer MetLife filed suit against the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) in an effort to overturn its designation as a systemically important financial institution (SIFI).
The complaint then went on to quote from the dissent of Roy Woodall, the independent member of the FSOC with insurance expertise, who noted that the Treasury and Fed, as members of the FSB, had consented to the FSB's designation of MetLife as a global SIFI in July 2013.
This could be an important issue in MetLife's case, because the FSOC is a quasi-judicial body with adjudicative and regulatory authority.
Reversing this trend by gaining some control over shadow banks and reducing their competition with regulated banks through greater regulation would explain what the FSB, Fed, and FSOC are doing.
In this context, the FSB's efforts to gain control of shadow banking raise important questions about why the FSOC designated MetLife and other large nonbank financial firms as SIFIs.
And, to the extent that the Fed itself does not have the authority to exert this control, he noted that the Fed intends to use the authorities of the FSOC for this purpose.
(1) For purposes of this paper, the federal financial regulators affected by Dodd-Frank include the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (Federal Reserve), Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), Federal Insurance Office (FIO), National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (CFPB), Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC), and Office of Financial Research (OFR), as well as the quasi-governmental regulators: the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB), Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB), and National Futures Association (NFA).
For more on the SIFI designation process and potential economic impacts, see Peter Wallison, "What the FSOC's Prudential Decision Tells Us about SIFI Designation," AEI Financial Services Outlook (March 2014), www.aei.org/outlook/economics/financial-services/banking/what-the-fsocs-prudential-decision- tells-us-about-sifi-designation/.