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POLITICS: PennAve

'Too big to fail' could be slapped on more non-banks

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Politics,Finance and Banking,PennAve,Joseph Lawler,Economy,Dodd Frank,Insurance Industry

Top financial regulators will meet next week to discuss identifying non-bank financial companies a threat to the entire financial system and subjecting them to tighter regulation.

It is widely expected that the Sept. 4 meeting announced by the Financial Stability Oversight Council late Thursday will focus on applying the label of "too big to fail" to one insurer, MetLife.

The FSOC, a super-regulator created by the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law to be responsible for identifying overall threats to the financial system, previously voted in August to finish collecting evidence about one company it was considering labeling a systemically important financial institution. The Wall Street Journal reported that the firm was MetLife, which has been going through the process of being designated a systemic threat for months.

By officially labeling MetLife or another company too big to fail, the FSOC would subject it to tighter regulatory requirements and bring it under the oversight of the Federal Reserve, which traditionally monitored only banks.

The FSOC, which is led by Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and comprises the heads of the Fed, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and other major regulators, has previously applied the too-big-to-fail designation to insurer AIG, which was at the center of the financial collapse in 2008. It also has given the label to the General Electric Capital Corporation, and, most recently, to the insurer Prudential.

MetLife has fought being regulated as a systemically important firm. The FSOC's deliberations have become increasingly controversial, as industry groups and some congressional Republicans say that it is unaccountable and lacks transparency.

In its meeting next week, the FSOC is also due to consider whether it should apply the too-big-to-fail designation to asset management firms such as Fidelity Investments.

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