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Financial Regulators’ Global Variety Show

PARIS – In the early phases of the financial crisis, it was fashionable to argue that the United States’ system of regulation needed a fundamental structural overhaul. Differences of opinion between the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) had obstructed effective oversight of investment banks and derivatives trading (only the US believes that it makes sense to regulate securities and derivatives separately).

Indeed, the plethora of separate banking regulators had created opportunities for banks to arbitrage the system in search of a more indulgent approach to capital. Likewise, the lack of a federal insurance regulator had left AIG regulated by the Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS) and the New York State Insurance Department, which proved to be a wholly inadequate arrangement.