Federal financial regulators announced Friday that they no longer intend to oversee the insurer American International Group as though it were a megabank.
Members of the Financial Stability Oversight Council voted to remove the official designation that AIG is a "systemically important financial institution," a label that entails strict regulation. It had tagged AIG with the designation in 2013.
"The council has worked diligently to thoroughly re-evaluate whether AIG poses a risk to financial stability," said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the council's chairman. "This action demonstrates our commitment to act decisively to remove any designation if a company does not pose a threat to financial stability."
AIG's collapse in 2008, which threatened to take down Wall Street banks to which it owed money, prompted Congress to create the Financial Stability Oversight Council as part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank law. The idea behind the council was to empower regulators to identify and oversee companies that might pose threats to the financial system even if they are not banks.
AIG CEO Brian Duperreault said that the firm earned Friday's decision by making itself less risky. "The Council's decision reflects the substantial and successful de-risking that AIG's employees have achieved since 2008," he said. "The company is committed to continued vigilant risk management and to working closely with our numerous regulators to enable a strong AIG to continue to serve our clients."
Financial industry groups, which have been critical of the council and its decisionmaking, praised Friday's decision.
Dennis Kelleher, though, the head of the Better Markets group that advocates stricter regulation of Wall Street, panned the vote as "an historic mistake and a slap in the face to the tens of millions of Americans who suffered and continue to suffer from the devastating 2008 financial crash."
The council will come to regret signaling that there are not consequences for reckless behavior, Kelleher predicting.
The council voted 6-3 to rescind the label. Joining Mnuchin were Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen, regulators appointed by President Trump, and the independent member of the council appointed for his expertise in insurance.
Voting against the decision were three members appointed by President Obama: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Chairman Martin Gruenberg, and Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mel Watt.
Jay Clayton, the Trump-appointed chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, recused himself from the vote because of ties between his former law firm and AIG.