Fed 'to strengthen oversight role'
Regulators are working closely to strengthen oversight of inner workings of the US financial system, part of a broader effort to prevent a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis, Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke has said.
The financial overhaul law enacted last year directs the Fed and other agencies to better co-ordinate supervision of financial "clearing houses".
They are institutions that handle the enormous volume of payments and transactions of securities and derivatives conducted each day by financial companies. Clearing houses are an important part of the country's financial infrastructure.
These institutions generally performed well during the financial crisis, Mr Bernanke said in a speech to a financial markets conference meeting in the Atlanta suburb of Stone Mountain. But he added: "We should not take for granted that we will be as lucky in the future."
Mr Bernanke said the Fed is working with the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to implement the new law's provisions.
Fielding questions after his speech, Mr Bernanke stuck to a prediction that the sharply higher prices for oil, food and other commodities will be "transitory".
Mr Bernanke told Congress in early March that the rise in oil prices will cause only a brief and modest rise in consumer prices. "That being said, we have to monitor inflation very closely because if my assumption is not correct, we have to respond to that'," he said.
Most economists think the Fed will start boosting interest rates next year to fend off inflation. However, some analysts think the Fed will be forced to start raising rates near the end of this year.
Mr Bernanke also raised concern that the high number of foreclosures will continue to weigh on home prices, household wealth and consumer confidence.
"It's one of the reasons the recovery is not as strong as we'd like it to be," he said.