Guo Shuqing to lead merged banking and insurance regulator

Newsletter

Last week, we reported on the major government body reshuffling that included, perhaps most significantly, the merger of the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) and the China Insurance Regulatory Commission (CIRC). Now the powerful new organization has a boss: Guo Shuqing 郭树清, sources have told Bloomberg, Caixin (paywall), and the Economic Observer (in Chinese).

  • Guo is “not only highly regarded as one of China’s most experienced financial services professionals, but he also stands out from Chinese bureaucrats as a reform-minded policymaker who is willing to take aggressive steps,” according to Reuters.
  • He is a “man of action” and a “rapid-fire regulator,” in media descriptions, because Guo spent the past year as chairman of the CBRC, where he oversaw a record $465 million in fines on financial institutions for unlawful practices such as lax lending and lying about bad loans.
  • He also earned the nickname “whirlwind Guo” during a 17-month stint as head of China’s securities regulator from 2011 to 2013, issuing something like 80 policy directives while cracking down on insider trading and market manipulation, according to the New York Times (paywall).
  • Guo had been considered a leading candidate for the job of central bank governor, the SCMP notes, which instead went to “low-key technocrat” Yi Gang. Under the recent regulatory reshuffle, the People’s Bank of China will set policies while the combined banking and insurance regulator’s task will be to execute them.
  • While not quite the “super-regulator” once floated that would have also brought securities markets under its purview, the new combined organization will still have important tasks. A key priority for Guo will likely be the crackdown on shadow banking, a major source of risk that both banks and insurance companies are heavily involved in, and a key target of Xi Jinping’s campaign to clean up and consolidate control over the financial sector.