Risk management breakdowns over Archegos in Fed focus – Powell

FILE PHOTO: Chairman of the Federal Reserve Jerome Powell listens during a Senate Banking Committee hearing on “The Quarterly CARES Act Report to Congress” on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., December 1, 2020. Susan Walsh/Pool via REUTERS

(Reuters) – The U.S. Federal Reserve is looking into risk management breakdowns at some of the banks that were involved in the meltdown of New York fund Archegos Capital, the chairman of the central bank said on Wednesday.

Archegos, a family office run by ex-Tiger Asia manager Bill Hwang, along with major banks that financed the fund’s trades, lost billions of dollars last month as its leveraged bets on media stocks quickly soured.

“It seems as though there were risk management breakdowns at some of the firms, not all of them, and that’s what we’re looking into,” Fed Chair Jerome Powell said in response to questions at a press conference following the end of the Fed’s two-day policy meeting.

He added that some of the prime brokerage businesses involved in the situation were not aware of each other having the “same big risk position.”

In an interview with 60 Minutes on CBS earlier this month, Powell said that while the incident did not raise concerns over systemic risks to the institutions or the financial system, it was “concerning” the banks suffered such big losses at the hands of one client in a relatively well-understood business.

At his press conference on Wednesday, Powell also said while the Fed supervises banks to ensure they have risk management systems in place, it has no role in actually managing their risks.

“I wouldn’t say it’s in any way an indictment of our supervision of these firms,” Powell said.

Global banks, including Morgan Stanley, UBS, Nomura, and Credit Suisse, have reported collective losses of more than $10 billion.

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