US regulator calls for greater scrutiny of hedge funds after bond turmoil

Hedge funds and different components of the shadow banking system ought to face larger scrutiny after final month’s upheaval in US authorities bonds, the nation’s prime markets regulator has stated, reflecting issues that speculative buyers pose a threat to monetary stability.

Gary Gensler, chair of the Securities and Trade Fee, informed the Monetary Instances that taming dangers from speculative funds and different so-called non-bank monetary establishments was now “extra vital than ever”.

He added he wished a greater understanding of how bets by such asset managers — usually extremely leveraged — can spill out throughout asset lessons and into the actual financial system.

Gensler’s feedback sign regulators’ dedication to sort out dangers exterior the banking sector following a UK authorities bond disaster that contributed to the ejection of Liz Truss’s authorities final 12 months, and what the SEC chair termed as March’s “once-in-a-generation” rally in Treasuries.

“We simply had Treasury yields transfer extra considerably than they’d in 35 years in three days in mid-March,” he stated, referring to the rally sparked by the failure of Silicon Valley Financial institution. “When you’ve that, it’s applicable as a capital markets regulator to speak to people and see whether or not that threat . . . propagates out.”

In addition to initiating such contacts, the SEC may also suggest forcing market contributors to extend disclosure of their actions.

However regulators have concentrated over the previous decade on the banks that helped spark the 2008 monetary disaster, largely leaving hedge funds alone — even after the 2021 collapse of Archegos, the hedge fund-style household workplace.

Within the meantime, property managed by hedge funds globally have greater than quadrupled to $4.8tn since 2009, in response to knowledge supplier BarclayHedge.

Nonetheless, a number of heavy-hitting macro hedge funds suffered billions of {dollars} of paper losses when buyers moved in to bonds after SVB failed.

A pick-up in bond costs rapidly changed into the largest rally since 1987 as hedge funds rushed to shut out bets in opposition to Treasuries that had introduced them good-looking rewards final 12 months.

“A bit bit of stories obtained vastly amplified” by the “speculative group”, Sushil Wadhwani, a former central banker and chief funding officer at PGIM Wadhwani, an asset supervisor, stated at an occasion this week.

A hedge fund supervisor informed the FT he and several other friends had now obtained inquiries from regulators looking for info on their establishments’ positions in Treasuries — an important market that determines costs throughout international asset costs. Gensler declined to touch upon any particular requests to companies.

One other hedge fund supervisor stated that leverage constructed up by shadow banks had been the main target of current conversations. They stated the regulator was “gathering market intelligence” on this reasonably than expressing particular issues.

Gensler added that authorities shouldn’t be distracted from the dangers posed by non-banks by the failures of lenders similar to SVB and Credit score Suisse — a message echoed by different international regulators on the IMF spring conferences in Washington.

He stated he had beforehand recognized hedge funds as a threat to monetary stability, including that the SEC’s oversight, together with different regulators of financial institution lending to hedge funds, was “a very vital focus of not simply ours however of others overseeing [the banking sector]”.

The SEC was in direct contact with market contributors and obtained quarterly stories from hedge funds in addition to info from banks, Gensler stated.

The US regulator has put ahead proposals to offer it entry to extra real-time knowledge in instances of market stress. Final 12 months it additionally proposed steering that may require hedge funds to tell it instantly once they have giant investor withdrawals or massive losses.

Klaas Knot, chair of the Monetary Stability Board, a world alliance of regulators, final week additionally emphasised the deal with shadow banking.

The drive extends past hedge funds, since different non-bank establishments can exacerbate market volatility. Final 12 months’s disaster in UK authorities bonds was sparked off by specialist buyers serving pension funds.

Gensler stated current inflows additionally strengthened the arguments for tighter regulation of cash market funds, which buyers have piled in to for shelter from chaos within the banking sector.

Further reporting by Harriet Agnew

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