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US Financial Regulation is Set Up to Fail

US Financial Regulation is Set Up to Fail

by Starling Insights

Starling Insights Editorial Board

May 10, 2023


In a recent opinion piece in the Financial Times, Richard Bookstaber, a former regulator and bank chief risk officer, described the US regulatory approach to risk management as reactive and overbearing, focusing on the problems of the day rather than the material risks that could emerge from dynamic and complex markets.

"The nature of risk requires us to rethink the way we go about risk management in the regulatory sphere," he wrote. "We don't fail because of mismeasurement at the second decimal point or a poorly drafted subsection. We fail because our regulatory approach misses material risks wholesale."

According to Bookstaber, regulators tend to rely on rules-based regulations, which are time-consuming to draft and cannot anticipate every contingency. Instead, he calls for them to adopt a flexible and robust principles-based approach that respects the nature of risk. To do so, regulators must work cooperatively with the industry to identify material risks and come to common solutions.

"Regulators need to sit at the table with industry risk personnel," Bookstaber concluded. "This is the direction our regulatory approach needs to go in so that the regulations we write this time around don’t lead to someone else writing, fifteen years from now, about how our regulations failed us yet again."

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