October 6, 2017 / 3:50 PM / a year ago

Treasury pushes U.S. regulatory interests, setting scene for clash

WASHINGTON/LONDON (Reuters) - The U.S. Treasury on Friday said domestic regulators should prioritize U.S. interests when engaging in global rulemaking forums, setting up possible conflicts with overseas regulators.

U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin walks after a moment of silence in the wake of a mass shooting in Las Vegas at the White House in Washington, U.S., October 2, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

The recommendation comes days before global regulators from the Basel Committee and the Financial Stability Board are due to convene in Washington ahead of an International Monetary Fund meeting, and will likely overshadow discussions that will take place on the sidelines.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s executive order earlier this year calling for the rollback of rules introduced after the 2007-2009 financial crisis has sparked fears that the world’s most influential financial market would retreat from global rulemaking.

The United States should continue to engage in global rulemaking, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a report on regulatory reform on Friday, but should do so in a way that helps Wall Street be globally competitive and keeps financial markets fair and vibrant.

“U.S. agencies should also continue to advance U.S. interests by engaging bilaterally and multilaterally to enhance American companies’ competitiveness,” the report said.

International rules should only be used if they align with domestic objectives, and should be “carefully and appropriately tailored” to meet the needs of the U.S. financial services industry and the American people, the report said.

A more assertive United States will raise tensions in the European Union with both sides having laboured for years to find common ground in areas like clearing derivatives.

Agreements between the two countries on cross-border trading in swaps and how financial research should be paid for remain outstanding.

The United States has already made it clear it won’t endorse a planned global capital rule for insurers unless it meets U.S. requirements.


Mnuchin’s report comes at a time when momentum in global rulemaking is already sputtering as the immediate post-crisis sense of urgency fades. Top officials at several global bodies are also coming to end of their terms, potentially creating leadership vacuums.

One top U.S. regulatory official told Reuters last month that frustrations were growing over the Basel and FSB rule-making process which “left much to be desire”. This person said the process was too opaque, that implementation deadlines were often arbitrary, and that cost-benefit analysis wasn’t always adequate.

On Friday, the Treasury recommended increasing “transparency and accountability” in these international bodies, saying they should adopt U.S. style rulemaking procedures that include “robust” impact assessments and broad consultation.

“Treasury recommends increasing the number and timeliness of external stakeholder consultation and publicizing the schedule of major international meetings,” the Treasury wrote on Friday.

A spokesman for the FSB declined to comment on the report, but in a statement outlining its 2018 agenda on Friday the FSB said it would review its processes, procedural guidelines and transparency.

Representatives of Basel did not immediately respond to emailed requests for comment.

Mnuchin had already ruffled regulatory feathers with his first report on regulatory reform which proposed delaying two of Basel’s rules in order to ease the burden on American banks. That recommendation prompted warnings from the European Union not to roll back on globally agreed rules.

Earlier on Friday, the Basel Committee announced it would allow flexibility in the way one of those rules are implemented in a bid to persuade members like the United States to stick to the 2018 start date.

But the Treasury report may put further strain on attempts by Basel to complete its Basel III bank capital reform initiated after taxpayers had to bail out lenders during the crisis.

A split between the United States and Europe has prevented a deal on a key element of the package.

Federal Reserve Board Governor Jerome Powell told a Reuters Summit this week there was a good case for getting a deal this year, “but we’d like to do that on terms that are fair, and fair to us”.

(This version of the story corrects 14th paragraph to say Friday, not Tuesday)

Reporting by Huw Jones; Editing by Nick Zieminski

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