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A.I.G.--Skeel

Steven Davidoff (aka, the Deal Professor) has an interesting post on DealBook today speculating about whether regulators will step in and take over A.I.G. now that the new financial reforms (signed today) have given them sweeping powers to "liquidate" floundering, systemically important financial institutions.  The new resolution regime automatically applies to bank holding companies with $50 billion in assets; it isn't automatic with nonbanks, but regulators can designate those that are systemically important and pull them into the framework.  Once they're designated, regulators can take them over if they're in default or in danger of default.  I doubt regulators would go that far with A.I.G.  It's a bit too late, and A.I.G. has been scaling back on its own.  But regulators do face an interesting question whether to designate A.I.G. or any other nonbanks for inclusion now that the legislation has been passed.  If they don't identify any, it will undermine the credibility of the new resolution regime, since it will suggest regulators are just going to swoop in at the last minute when a big firm runs into trouble, as they did in 2008.  But if they designate a group of nonbank financial firms for inclusion, it will mark those on the list as special (and potentially too big to fail, though the resolution regime purports to end that) and spur speculation as to why others weren't included.

My guess is that regulators will at least designate A.I.G. for inclusion in the near future.  I doubt they'll designate many others.  But they do seem to need to designate at least one to show that they're serious about implementing the new regime.

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