What Is the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC)?

The Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) was established in 2010 with the passage of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. The FSOC is responsible for monitoring any risks to the US financial sector associated with large banks or financial holding companies that helped to derail the economy during the Great Recession.

The FSOC grew out of the public outrage surrounding the financial service bailouts during the 2007 financial crisis and the belief that the banking and finance sectors need to be held accountable for their actions—that no entity should be “too big to fail.” President Barack Obama signed the Dodd-Frank Act into law in July of 2010, and the FSOC issued its first report a year later.

Key Takeaways

  • The FSOC was established by the Dodd-Frank Act in 2010 as a way to protect the US economy from the actions of large banks that led to the Great Recession.
  • Many Americans were outraged in 2008 after the financial sector received a bailout from the US government; the FSOC helps hold these large institutions accountable.
  • The US Treasury Secretary is the head of the FSOC.
  • The FSOC is required by Dodd-Frank to identify potential threats to the US economy's stability and publish their findings in a public annual report.

Understanding the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC)

According to the Dodd-Frank Act, the FSOC has three primary purposes:

  1. "To identify risks to the financial stability of the United States that could arise from the material financial distress or failure, or ongoing activities, of large, interconnected bank holding companies or nonbank financial companies, or that could arise outside the financial services marketplace.
  2. To promote market discipline by eliminating expectations on the part of shareholders, creditors, and counterparties of such companies that the U.S. government will shield them from losses in the event of failure.
  3. To respond to emerging threats to the stability of the U.S. financial system."

The Council is composed of 10 voting and five non-voting members. The US Treasury Secretary occupies the FSOC's chair position.

Other voting members include the chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission, the chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and other insurance and financial regulation experts within the US government.

Non-voting members, who operate in an advisory role, consist of a state insurance commissioner designated by the state insurance commissioners, a state banking securities commissioner, and others.

Additional tasks of the FSOC include increasing the discipline of financial markets in communicating the message that no institution is “too big to fail” and that the government will not prevent losses to the financial sector and shield such organizations from losses. 

Example of a Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) Report

The Dodd-Frank Act also requires that the FSOC file a public annual report detailing the Council's findings. The FSOC must report to Congress: "any potential threats to the stability of the US economy, any significant financial market and regulatory developments, as well as recommendations to enhance the integrity, efficiency, competitiveness, and stability of US financial markets."

As you might imagine, the Council's 2020 annual report, filed on Dec. 3, 2020, analyzes various risks to corporate and household finances caused by the global crisis.

Beyond the economic stress many individual Americans faced due to the pandemic, the FSOC identifies some key areas of interest pertinent to economic stability including the historically high ratio of corporate credit to GDP, the commercial real estate market, the extreme volatility of financial markets, and potentially significant structural vulnerabilities remain in the short-term wholesale funding market.