The release last week of public summaries of the resolution plans submitted by the 12 largest financial institutions operating in the US reveal more insight into the institutions’ resolution strategies than ever before, including the strategy for each of their most important subsidiaries (“material entities”).
The considerable additional detail of the 2015 releases displays the structural differences between these institutions – especially between the eight domestic banks and the four foreign banking organizations (“FBOs”). In particular, there is a notable shift toward a Title I single point of entry (“SPOE”) strategy among domestic institutions:1
- Six of the eight domestic
… Read more
The Federal Open Market Committee, which controls the supply of money in the United States, may be the country’s most important agency. The chair of the committee is often dubbed the second most powerful person in Washington, only deferring to the President himself. Financial scholars and analysts obsess over the institution, leading to a rich tradition of FOMC Kremlinology, veneration, and second-guessing in business schools and economics departments.
But legal scholars have been less entranced by the committee, put off, perhaps, by the fact that the institution has never been checked by the courts or the Administrative Procedure Act. As … Read more
On August 4, 2015 the Securities and Exchange Commission issued interpretive guidance elaborating its view that the anti-retaliation provisions in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act apply equally to tipsters who claim retaliation after reporting internally, as well as those who are retaliated against after reporting information to the SEC. The guidance reflects that there is a split among federal courts over whether Dodd-Frank’s whistleblower retaliation provisions apply to internal as well as external reporting, and recognizes that the only circuit court to decide the issue to date, the Fifth Circuit, has taken a contrary position to … Read more
At its core, the Volcker Rule is designed to prevent excessive risk-taking by banks, which was seen by the U.S. Congress and financial regulators as a contributor to the 2008 financial crisis. With its focus on the stability of the U.S. financial system, the Volcker Rule is meant to have only a limited reach to activities of foreign banks outside the United States. Although the scope of banks and bank affiliates subject to the Volcker Rule is very broad, the statutory language of the Volcker Rule exempts from the proprietary trading prohibition foreign bank trading activity that occurs solely outside … Read more
The Dodd-Frank Act charged the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau with ensuring that consumers “understand the costs, benefits, and risks” associated with financial products and services. Despite this ambitious mandate, and despite the Bureau’s self-branding as a “21st century agency,” the Bureau’s pursuit of consumer comprehension has thus far focused on 20th century tools that have proven ineffective at regulating financial transactions: disclosure requirements and deception prohibitions. No matter how well the Bureau’s “Know Before You Owe” disclosures perform in the lab, or even in field trials, firms will run circles around disclosures when the experiments end, confusing consumers and defying … Read more
Under the long-awaited proposed rules adopted by the Securities and Exchange Commission on July 1, 2015, generally, all US publicly listed companies would be required to adopt broad clawback policies and make new clawback-related disclosures. Although these requirements likely will not take effect prior to the 2016 proxy season, all companies should start planning for these changes now.
Background: History of Clawback Regulations
Since 2002, the Securities and Exchange Commission (the SEC) has had the authority under Section 304 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) to recover (or “clawback”) certain compensation from chief executive officers and chief financial officers of public … Read more
To the friends of the CLS Blue Sky Blog: The ABA journal is conducting a poll to identify the top 100 legal blogs. We would be honored by your nomination. In addition to reprinting commentary from practitioners and regulators on legal developments in corporate law, securities and other financial regulation, antitrust, restructuring and kindred topics, we feature explanations of recent scholarship in these fields and debates on policy issues. We select our content to provide readers with a rich and broad view, and do not shy away from technical topics. I believe there are few if any other forums serving … Read more
Compliance is a growth field in both legal education and practice. Overall, whether compliance teaching is geared towards students or individuals within a company, greater care and nuance must be taken in undertaking compliance teaching and training to reflect the inter-disciplinary and proactive elements of the creation of robust and effective compliance programs. Increasingly, this means that lawyers and law professors need to incorporate insights from other disciplines in their teaching to use more case studies.
Compliance is a growing field of practice across multiple areas of law. Increasingly companies put compliance risk among the most important corporate governance issues … Read more
The House is continuing Congress’ piecemeal rollback of the Dodd-Frank Act, a theme Alexander Sand and I explore in our recent article, Cutting Back: Revisions to Dodd-Frank Derivatives Rules. Although the House has targeted a number of Dodd-Frank provisions for regulatory relief, today I will focus on clearing and margin. At present, these requirements are not harmonized in that market participants that are exempt from clearing may nevertheless be forced to post margin when trading with swap dealers and major swap participants (the two types of market intermediaries that are subject to margin requirements under Dodd-Frank). Imposition of … Read more
If there is one simple lesson from the crisis that we all can embrace, it is that no financial institution in America should be so big or complex that its failure would put the financial system at risk.1 Congress wrote that simple lesson into law as a core principle of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 (Dodd-Frank Act).
Consequently, a fundamental change in our framework of regulation as a result of the crisis is to impose tougher rules on banking organizations that are so big or complex that their risk taking and distress could … Read more
Since AIG’s bailout in September 2008, the role of large, complex insurance firms in the global financial system has received much attention. Concern about the global operations, interconnectedness, and non-traditional activities of these large firms prompted the Financial Stability Board to formally designate 9 life and full insurance firms in six countries as Global-Systemically Important Insurers (G-SII) in July 2013. In the US, where insurance industry assets equal roughly half the size of total assets held by all financial institutions covered by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Financial Stability Oversight Council has confirmed the designation of AIG, MetLife and … Read more
The SEC proposed its long-awaited compensation clawback rules under the Dodd-Frank Act. The proposed rules would require public companies to adopt and enforce compensation recovery policies that recoup from executive officers incentive compensation resulting from specified accounting restatements. Failure to comply with these rules would result in delisting by the applicable exchange.
Which companies would be covered? With very limited exceptions, the rules would apply broadly to all issuers with listed securities, including foreign private issuers, emerging growth companies, smaller reporting companies, controlled companies and issuers of listed debt whose stock is not also listed.
Which individuals would be covered? … Read more
Yesterday afternoon, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) released a discussion draft of “The Financial Regulatory Improvement Act of 2015” (the “Discussion Draft”). This proposed legislation would significantly amend certain aspects of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (“Dodd-Frank”), in particular the current regulatory framework for designating and regulating so-called systemically-important financial institutions, or “SIFIs.” In addition, the 216-page Discussion Draft would substantially broaden the Dodd-Frank safe harbor for “qualified mortgages” and includes a number of other notable provisions relating to the regulation of insurance companies, the structure and operation of the Federal Reserve System, and … Read more
On May 12, 2015, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”) and Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) jointly issued the CFTC’s final interpretation clarifying its interpretation concerning forward contracts with embedded volumetric optionality (“Final Interpretation”). The Final Interpretation appears to signal that, going forward, the CFTC will take a more relaxed view of which transactions constitute “forward contracts” that are not subject to regulation as swaps. This view should be helpful to many commercial parties entering into contracts that provide for volumetric optionality, which means the right to receive or deliver a commodity in an amount that is more or less … Read more
The debate over asset managers’ potential systemic risk has been ongoing for some years, with little agreement between the industry, US regulators, and global standard setting bodies. US regulators themselves have been divided – the SEC has in particular been skeptical that asset managers or individual funds can be the source of systemic risk of a magnitude akin to that posed by large banks.
Nevertheless, consensus is finally forming on the need to address specific risks of the industry. With the designation of asset managers as systemically important financial institutions (“nonbank SIFIs”) by the Financial Stability Oversight Council (“FSOC”) now … Read more
Bagehot, as in Walter Bagehot, was mentioned no less than seven times in the decision splitting the baby in the AIG trial. A nineteenth century British commentator, Bagehot was among the first to recognize that too little liquidity could wreak havoc on a financial system.  In a series of admonitions, known today as Bagehot’s dictum, he admonished central banks to lend freely to any solvent institution with good collateral, but at a penalty rate to minimize the attendant moral hazard. In invoking Bagehot, Judge Wheeler was in good company. Ben Bernanke and other leading policymakers regularly invoked … Read more
On April 30, 2015, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”) approved for publication in the Federal Register proposed amendments to the trade option exemption (the “Proposal”) that would reduce reporting and recordkeeping requirements for trade option counterparties that are not swap dealers or major swap participants (“Non-SD/MSPs”). Notably, the Proposal would eliminate the annual Form TO filing requirement for Non-SD/MSPs in connection with their trade options, while requiring them to notify the CFTC’s Division of Market Oversight (“DMO”) if their trade options have, or are expected to have, an aggregate notional value in excess of $1 billion in any calendar … Read more
The AIG decision (actually, Starr International Co. v. The United States) has shocked many but for the wrong reason. Some commentators have focused on the ingratitude of Maurice Greenberg, AIG’s former CEO and the “architect” of its international insurance business. In their view, he should have been thankful for the $85 billion loan extended by the Federal Reserve Board (which still left AIG’s shareholders holding 20% of their stock). Ultimately, AIG’s shareholders did much better than their Lehman counterparts (who received nothing), but these issues of comparative fairness and Greenberg’s alleged chutzpah go mainly to the cosmetics and … Read more
On April 28, 2015, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) announced that it awarded the maximum allowable award to a whistleblower under the Dodd-Frank whistleblower program in its first case involving alleged retaliation by an employer against an employee who reported suspected misconduct to the SEC. This award of 30 percent of the amount collected by the SEC in In the Matter of Paradigm Capital Management, Inc. and Candace King Weir equaled a payment of more than $600,000 to the employee who, according to the SEC, provided “key original information that led to the successful SEC enforcement action.”
In … Read more
On April 29, 2015, the SEC issued a proposing release regarding the so-called “pay versus performance” disclosure mandated by Section 953(a) of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. The proposed rules would require certain companies registered under Section 12 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (excluding, for example, emerging growth companies and foreign private issuers) to disclose in both tabular and narrative or graphical format the relationship between “actually paid” named executive officer (“NEO”) compensation and total shareholder return (“TSR”) performance in their proxy statements.
The proposed rules require each company to provide tabular … Read more