Thursday, June 17, 2010

UK Regulatory Reform - Osborne's speech

The UK made a major leap into the unknown yesterday by unveiling a set of proposals for reforming the regulatory system. Here are the key points via the WSJ:
  1. In addition to its current responsibility for monetary policy, the central bank will take charge of preventing systemic risks and of day-to-day supervision of the U.K. financial sector, including foreign companies that operate in the City of London, through a newly formed subsidiary, tentatively dubbed the Prudential Regulatory Authority.
  2. FSA to be abolished
  3. ...the new agency within the Bank of England will inherit some of the powers of the FSA
  4. FSA will cease to exist on paper, much of its current structure is likely to live on in the new prudential authority. Its supervisory staff is expected to remain largely intact, as is its newly muscular approach to policing banks, traders and insurers.
  5. Two of the FSA's other duties—consumer protection and law enforcement—will be assumed by new independent entities, including an agency focused on white-collar crime.
The proposals are rather thin on detail at the moment. I'm not sure if this model is the right solution. Transferring the FSA's responsibilities to the BOE does not really address the problem - the lack of appetite for enforcement in the FSA. It also confuses the mission of the central bank - setting monetary policy - with regulation and enforcement, which are legal questions rather than economic ones. Only time will tell if this will make any difference.