Funds with $100 billion may be too big to fail

January 8, 2014 06:45 AM

Investment funds that manage more than $100 billion in assets may be labeled too big to fail, global regulators said, as they seek to expand financial safeguards beyond banks and insurers.

Hedge funds with trading activities exceeding a set value of $400 billion to $600 billion would also be assessed by national authorities to gauge whether they need extra rules because their collapse could spark a crisis, the Financial Stability Board said in a statement on its website today.

The report addresses “the risks to global financial stability and economic stability posed by the disorderly failure of financial institutions other than banks and insurers,” Mark Carney, Bank of England governor and FSB chairman, said in the statement. “They are integral to solving the problem of financial institutions that are too big to fail.”

The FSB, which brings together regulators and central bankers from the Group of 20 nations, is ranking banks and insurers by their potential to cause a global meltdown and demanding bigger financial cushions to avert a repeat of the 2008 credit freeze. Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd., the world’s most profitable lender, was added to the FSB’s list of too-big-to-fail banks in November. Insurers such as American International Group Inc. and Allianz SE were deemed systemically important in July.

Hedge Funds

Finance companies that provide business funding, personal loans, store credit and car loans may also be considered crucial for stability because of the “potential difficulty of substituting certain types of finance to the real economy that they provide,” the FSB said in the report, which was produced with the International Organization of Securities Commissions, a Madrid-based group of supervisors from more than 100 countries.

As much as 80% of all assets outside of the banking and insurance industries are in the hands of consumer finance companies, broker-dealers and investment funds, according to the FSB.

While today’s report proposes how to classify companies as systemically important, the FSB said possible measures to defuse the risks they pose to the financial system “will be taken at a later stage.”

The board, based in Basel, Switzerland, said it will seek opinions on its proposals until April 7.

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