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Monday, November 08, 2004

GAO Suggests the System Needs Change

Reported by Theresa Sim

The General Accounting Office has issued a report titled "Industry Changes Prompt Need to Reconsider U.S. Regulatory Structure" based on its examination of the of the U.S. financial services regulatory system.

In the report, the GAO considers the U.S. system in light of developments in other countries, such as the United Kingdom, Japan and Germany, as well as the consolidation within domestic financial service providers and the globalization of the industry as a whole.

These trends have made it more difficult for regulators to "facilitate the monitoring of risks across firms and markets and does not provide for a proactive, strategic approach to systemwide issues," stated the report writers.

The functional structure of the U.S. regulatory system is not adept at the oversight of large and complex institutions, maintenance of competitive neutrality, and promotion of a larger strategic plan, reports the GAO.

While the GAO does not offer structural change as the remedy for the regulatory structure's problems, the GAO recommends that regulators need to improve oversight and communication between agencies, agency consolidation within functional areas, an objective-based regulatory structure based on a regulation by objective, total consolidation among financial regulators, or creation of an agency to oversee large, global and complex entities.

The investigators conducted the report at the request of Richard Shelby (R, Alabama), chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. 

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