Securities Law Prof Blog

Editor: Eric C. Chaffee
Univ. of Toledo College of Law

Thursday, May 6, 2010

GAO Releases Report on Leverage at Financial Institutions

Excerpt from GAO, Financial Crisis Highlights Need to Improve Oversight of Leverage at Financial Institutions and across System:

In 2009 GAO conducted a study on the role of leverage in the recent financial crisis and federal oversight of leverage, as mandated by the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act. This testimony presents the results of that study, and discusses (1) how leveraging and deleveraging by financial institutions may have contributed to the crisis, (2) how federal financial regulators limit the buildup of leverage; and (3) the limitations the crisis has revealed in regulatory approaches used to restrict leverage and regulatory proposals to address them.
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What GAO Recommends
As Congress considers establishing a systemic risk regulator, it should consider the merits of assigning such a regulator with responsibility for overseeing systemwide leverage. As U.S. regulators continue to consider reforms to strengthen oversight of leverage, we recommend that they assess the extent to which reforms under Basel II, a new risk-based capital framework, will address risk evaluation and regulatory oversight concerns associated with advanced modeling approaches used for capital adequacy purposes.

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