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Global regulators to ditch 'too big to fail' gauge for insurers: Source

Global regulators to ditch 'too big to fail' gauge for insurers: Source

(Reuters) – Global financial regulators have decided to ditch a “too big to fail” gauge for assessing the riskiness of global insurers, according to a source briefed on the matter, in a big win for companies such as American International Group Inc. and Prudential Financial Inc.

The Financial Stability Board, which coordinates financial regulation across the Group of 20 Economies, is expected to announce in coming weeks a switch in focus from insurers’ size to their activities when deciding whether to subject them to increased regulatory scrutiny, said the source, who requested anonymity because the matter has not been made public.

Companies singled out for such scrutiny are required to hold extra capital to cover potential losses.

The insurance industry has been lobbying for years for regulators to move to the activities-based approach, arguing that their huge size should not automatically qualify them as systemically risky and on the hook for onerous bank-like capital rules.

The shift in the FSB’s approach to designating globally systemically important insurers, or GSIIs, comes after pressure from the U.S. Treasury Department, which has been pushing the FSB to ease up on insurers and asset managers, the source said.

A spokesman for the FSB declined to comment.

The administration of President Donald Trump has pledged to overhaul regulations introduced following the 2007-2009 global financial crisis and put U.S. interests first when engaging in international bodies such as the FSB and the Basel Committee.

In September, a group of U.S. regulators – known as the Financial Stability Oversight Council – removed AIG from its domestic list of systemically important insurers, raising questions over whether the FSB would keep AIG on its global list and continue to add new firms.

In a policy report published last month, the U.S. Treasury rejected the idea of singling out specific asset management and insurance firms as systemically risky and criticized the FSB for mission-creep and a lack of transparency.

The U.S. Treasury is shortly due to release a policy report on the FSOC designation process and powers, which critics including regulatory experts and insurers have said are too opaque and unaccountable.




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