Thursday, December 17, 2009

The day SEC delegated to the Basel Committee

On April 28, 2004 in an Open Meeting the SEC had the following as Item 3 on the Agenda:

"Alternative Net Capital Requirements for Broker-Dealers that are Part of Consolidated Supervised Facilities and Supervised Investment Bank Holding Companies"

The following was considered and approved:

"The Commission will consider whether to adopt rule amendments and new rules under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 ("Exchange Act") that would establish two separate voluntary regulatory programs for the Commission to supervise broker-dealers and their affiliates on a consolidated basis.

One program would establish an alternative method to compute certain net capital charges for broker-dealers that are part of a holding company that manages risks on a group-wide basis and whose holding company consents to group-wide Commission supervision. The broker-dealer's holding company and its affiliates, if subject to Commission supervision, would be referred to as a "consolidated supervised entity" or "CSE." Under the alternative capital computation method, the broker-dealer would be allowed to compute certain market and credit risk capital charges using internal mathematical models. The CSE would be required to comply with rules regarding its group-wide internal risk management control system and would be required periodically to provide the Commission with consolidated computations of allowable capital and risk allowances (or other capital assessment) prepared in a form that is consistent with the Basel Standards. Commission supervision of the CSE would include recordkeeping, reporting, and examination requirements. The requirements would be modified for an entity with a principal regulator.

The other program would implement Section 17(i) of the Exchange Act, which created a new structure for consolidated supervision of holding companies of broker-dealers, or "investment bank holding companies" ("IBHCs") and their affiliates. Pursuant to the Exchange Act, an IBHC that meets certain, specified criteria may voluntarily register with the Commission as a supervised investment bank holding company ("SIBHC") and be subject to supervision on a group-wide basis. Registration as an SIBHC is limited to IBHCs that are not affiliated with certain types of banks and that have a substantial presence in the securities markets. The rules would provide an IBHC with an application process to become supervised by the Commission as an SIBHC, and would establish regulatory requirements for those SIBHCs. Commission supervision of an SIBHC would include recordkeeping, reporting and examination requirements. Further, the SIBHC also would be required to comply with rules regarding its group-wide internal risk management control system and would be required periodically to provide the Commission with consolidated computations of allowable capital and risk allowances (or other capital assessment) consistent with the Basel Standards."

In other words, that day the SEC, explicitly, delegated some of its functions to the Basel Committee.

That day Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Bear Stern, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch were authorized to leverage themselves way more than was traditional. That day those firms were authorized to use their own financial models to govern themselves. “With that the five big investment firms were unleashed”.

That day a very serious warning by Mr. Leonard D Bole was blithely ignored.

You can hear the New York times commenting more about that highly unfortunate delegation here