WASHINGTON Jan 29 A U.S. official will head a
worldwide group tasked with launching a unique identifier for
banks and other financial operators, to give regulators a better
view of their exposure and prevent the next crisis.
Matthew Reed, chief counsel at the U.S. Office of Financial
Research (OFR) would head the Regulatory Oversight Committee
(ROC), a new group that works under the auspices of the G20
group of the world's biggest economies.
The ROC would be tasked with implementing the so-called
Legal Entity Identifier (LEI), an ID tag for counterparties to
financial transactions that is the same across the world.
"The LEI should provide financial companies and global
financial regulators a better view of true exposures and
counterparty risks across the world's financial system," said
the U.S. Treasury, of which the OFR is a part.
Regulators are rewriting the rules for global finance after
the 2007-09 crisis brought to light faults that pushed the
banking system to the brink of collapse, and better data is a
central part of their effort.
The near-collapse of insurance giant American International
Group in 2008, for instance, came as an almost complete
surprise to its now defunct supervisor - the Office of Thrift
Supervision - because the damage was done in a poorly understood
"During the crisis, neither financial institutions nor
regulators were able to assess accurately exposures to troubled
companies," the U.S. Treasury said.
The ROC, which held its inaugural meeting last week, was
established under a charter by the G20 and the Financial
Stability Board, a G20 oversight group.
The FSB has been preparing the LEI since Nov. 2010, and the
system is now scheduled to launch by March 2013. The ROC will
oversee the system from now.
As one example of the new global rules, trading data for
swaps - derivative instruments that are used to speculate but
also to hedge risk - are being reported into public databases as
of the beginning of this year.
The $650 trillion derivatives market was unregulated before
the crisis, but in the United States has been brought under the
oversight of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission,
traditionally the futures regulator.
The swaps market is dominated by large banks such as Bank of
America, JPMorgan and Citigroup.