Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 12/2009

Improving Resolution Options for Systemically Relevant Financial Institutions

October 2009

Council on Foreign Relations


There are critical holes in the existing regulatory framework for handling large complex financial institutions that become impaired. This uncertainty makes it difficult for regulators to know the best way to restructure a financial institution or, indeed, whether restructuring is even feasible without enormous disruption. This Working Paper, the seventh in the Squam Lake Working Group series distributed by the Center for Geoeconomic Studies, endorses legislation that would give authorities the necessary powers to effect an orderly resolution of large complex financial institutions. As part of this authority, every such institution should be required to create its own rapid resolution plans, which would be subject to periodic regulatory scrutiny. These “living wills” would help authorities address the difficulties that might arise in a resolution.