Geithner Wants Federal Supervision of Hedge Funds, Private Equity Firms

New York (HedgeCo.Net) – If Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner gets his way, hedge funds and private equity firms will be placed under the supervision of the federal government.  

“Over the past 18 months, we have faced the most severe global financial crisis in generations,” Geithner said at the House Financial Services Committee hearing on Thursday, adding that “comprehensive reform” is required.  “Not modest repairs at the margin, but new rules of the game.”

Geithner supports a mandatory requirement for hedge funds and other large money management firms to register with the Securities and Exchange Commission, an issue that has been at the forefront of political debate recently.  Hedge funds would also have to keep the SEC updated on their trades and strategies.  

A systemic risk regulator would be imposed that could force these firms to raise capital or halt borrowing.  The regulator may also seize hedge funds or other non-bank entities if they felt it was necessary, though it was unclear which agencies would be responsible for handling that task.

“You don’t want to vest in any single institution such broad powers,” he explained.  

The Obama administration has been vocal about their desire to regulate the $1 trillion hedge fund industry.  After two massive hedge funds within Bear Stearns collapsed in the summer of 2007, eventually leading to the demise of the bank, many members of Congress started supporting regulation with the notion that hedge funds have a direct impact on our economy.  

Also backing the argument was the monumental damage caused by credit default swaps and the lack of regulation behind them, as was the case with American International Group.  

“The days when a major insurance company could bet the house on credit default swaps with no one watching and no credible backing to protect the company or taxpayers much end,” Geithner added, referring to the AIG debacle.

Under the proposed regulation, the market on which these credit default swaps and other derivatives would be regulated for the first time.

The SEC has tried previously to impose a registration requirement on hedge funds, only to have it overturned by a federal appeals court in 2006.       

Julie Scuderi
Senior Editor for HedgeCo.Net

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