Prudential SIFI challenge hearing held

(AP Photo/Douglas C. Pizac) (AP Photo/Douglas C. Pizac)

A hearing was held today on Prudential Financial’s challenge of its designation as a systemically important financial institution.

The Treasury Department issued a statement today that confirmed the hearing was held before the Financial Stability Oversight Council.

Prudential announced July 2, the deadline, that it would challenge its designation as a SIFI and seek a hearing, as the FSOC SIFI designation process allows it to do. The hearing had to be held within 30 days of the challenge under FSOC guidelines.

That same day, American International Group and GE Capital announced that they had accepted such a designation, the first nonbanks to do so.

The Treasury statement did not identify the challenger at the hearing, which, by rule, is confidential, but since Pru was the only one of three nonbanks to challenge the June 3 decision by the FSOC, the identity of the company was obvious.

The Treasury statement said the FSOC now has 60 days to make a final determination regarding this company.

“As noted in the FSOC's interpretive guidance, the FSOC does not intend to publicly announce the name of any nonbank financial company that is under evaluation before a final determination is made,” Treasury spokesperson Suzanne Elio said.

Last week, the FSOC said it has advanced MetLife to “Stage III” — the last stage before designation as a nonbank systemically significant financial institution.

MetLife said later that day that it would challenge such a designation.

At a Cato Institute event in Washington, Marcus Stanley, policy director for Americans for Financial Reform, told Melanie Waddell of ThinkAdvisor, formerly AdvisorOne, that large institutional asset managers like Blackrock and PIMCO should be considered by the FSOC for designation as SIFIs.

“Whether an institutional asset manager or a hedge fund will be the next SIFI designee is a really important question,” Stanley said. “So far what the FSOC has done is designate those [firms that are] completely obvious as they were central to the system.”

FSOC, Stanley said, is “just only now saying GE Capital and AIG” are significant. Firms like “BlackRock and PIMCO,” he said, are two of the big institutional asset managers where “there needs to be a more serious examination” taking place as to whether they are systemically important.

James Donnellan, vice president of government relations at MetLife, said at the Cato event that while "AIG is welcoming being a SIFI, MetLife is not."

"We don’t believe the insurance industry caused the [financial] crisis," Donnellan said.

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