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WASHINGTON — The Treasury Department will propose on Monday that Congress give the Federal Reserve broad authority to oversee financial market stability, in effect allowing it to send SWAT teams into any corner of the industry or any institution that might pose a risk to the overall system.
The proposal is part of a sweeping blueprint to overhaul the country’s hodge-podge of regulatory agencies, which many specialists say failed to recognize rampant excesses in mortgage lending until after they triggered what is now the worst financial calamity in decades.
According to a summary provided by the administration, the plan would consolidate what is now an alphabet soup of banking and securities regulators into a trio of overseers responsible for everything from banks and brokerage firms to hedge funds and private equity firms.
While the plan could expose Wall Street investment banks and hedge funds to greater scrutiny, it avoids a call for tighter regulation. The plan would not rein in practices that have been implicated in the housing and mortgage meltdown, like packaging risky subprime loans into securities carrying AAA ratings.
The Fed would also be given some authority over Wall Street firms but only when an investment bank’s practices posed a threat to the financial system over all.
The plan does not recommend tighter rules over the vast and largely unregulated markets for risk-sharing and hedging, like credit-default swaps, which are supposed to insure lenders against loss but became a speculative instrument and gave many institutions a false sense of security.
According to a summary provided by the administration, the plan would consolidate an alphabet soup of banking and securities regulators into a powerful trio of overseers responsible for everything from banks and brokerage firms to hedge funds and private equity firms.