October 14, 2014 / 12:48 AM / 3 years ago

G20 watchdog toughens up new rule for securities financing

LONDON (Reuters) - Global regulators are making it more expensive for hedge funds and insurance companies to raise money from loaning shares in a bid to curb hitherto unregulated risks in “shadow banking”.

Bank of England Governor Mark Carney participates in a panel discussion during the IMF-World Bank annual meetings in Washington October 12, 2014. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Securities financing are typically short-term money-raising transactions between banks and other financial institutions, involving the lending and borrowing of shares or the use of repurchase agreements or repos.

The market is worth an estimated $3.9 trillion globally.

Regulators worry that as banks become tightly controlled by the authorities following the 2007-09 financial crisis, risky financing will shift to the hitherto less regulated “shadow banking” sector made up of hedge funds, insurance companies and other non-banks.

The Financial Stability Board (FSB), which coordinates regulation for the Group of Twenty (G20) economies, published on Monday its new rule for the first global minimum “haircut” or discount on collateral used to back securities financing transactions, toughening up its original draft proposal.

“The regulatory framework for haircuts on securities financing transactions issued by the FSB today addresses important sources of leverage and the level of risk-taking in the core funding markets,” FSB Chairman Mark Carney said in a statement.

From the end of 2017, banks must impose a haircut of at least 6 percent on the collateral they receive from non-banks as “insurance” on the value of securities being loaned. The FSB had originally proposed a minimum haircut of 4 percent.

This means that for every $100 a hedge fund, for example, gets from a securities transaction, the bank must collect collateral worth at least $106.

“EXCESSIVE LEVERAGE”

It is the first hard rule from the FSB on regulating shadow banking as up until now it has only published principles.

It also marks a departure from the past year or more when draft rules from global regulators tended to be watered down as policymakers become more mindful of not wanting to approve rules that risk choking funding to the economy.

Currently, there are no haircuts on many securities financing transactions, meaning there is no safety buffer to cover any drop in the value of the securities loaned.

Some FSB members like the U.S. Federal Reserve, pushed for a tougher version of the draft rule.

“The implementation of the numerical haircut floors on securities financing transactions will reduce the build-up of excessive leverage and liquidity risk by non-banks during peaks in the credit and economic cycle,” said Daniel Tarullo, who chairs one of the FSB’s standing committees.

“It will be important for the FSB to monitor the impact of the framework following the implementation to help ensure that it achieves these objectives,” added Tarullo, who is also a Fed governor.

The new rule covers transactions between banks and non-banks. To stop a large chunk of the market shifting to transactions between only non-banks, the FSB launched a consultation on Monday on imposing the same minimum haircut on that part of the market as well.

Regulators will also carry out further work on how the minimum haircut could be temporarily raised above 6 percent when there is a need to cool markets, known as macro prudential regulation.

Reporting by Huw Jones; Editing by Crispian Balmer

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