Landmark financial markets regulation, the subject of heated debate in the U.S. Senate at press time, went through a similar process in the House of Representatives, which passed its bill last December. The prime mover behind that measure is Barney Frank (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. In this May interview with Treasury & Risk senior contributing editor Richard Gamble, Congressman Frank shares his views on the goals of reform, the process of getting there, and what it means for corporate finance, as well as the roles of the Troubled Asset Relief Program, the Federal Reserve, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
Q: What elements of reform will help corporate treasurers manage counterparty risk?
A: Making sure their counterparties take less risk should help them, but they'll have to do more of their own due diligence and rely less on rating agencies. The root of the problem was bad credit quality. When you can securitize and sell off 100% of the loans you make, you don't worry enough about credit quality. There is a risk retention requirement in the legislation that will make the lenders keep some skin in the game.