After JPMorgan Chase revealed their Fail Whale trades, there was a debate over whether those trades would have been stopped by the Volcker rule, which was supposed to prevent proprietary trading by the mega-banks. Jamie Dimon called the trade a hedge, the authors of the Volcker rule disagreed with him, they leaned on the regulators to prevent this kind of risky activity from happening, and there was much debating. And it was supposed to end in July, with the final Volcker rule published and released by the regulators.
July 21 was the deadline, to be precise.
That was over two weeks ago.
Jeff Merkley’s office commented that the Treasury Department is now promising a finished Volcker rule “before the end of the year” (or rather, they hope to finish it by the end of the year). This is indicative of how regulators have consistently blown past deadlines for Dodd-Frank law on rules large and small. The effect is to, first, give more time to the financial industry to operate under the old rules, and second, to give them more time to lobby regulators over watering down the new rules.
Speaking of watering down, House Financial Services Chairman Spencer Bachus launched an unusual initiative yesterday, asking the public to rewrite the Volcker rule before it’s even written.
WASHINGTON – Financial Services Committee Chairman Spencer Bachus is asking investors, industry professionals and the public to offer their ideas and suggestions on how to formulate a less burdensome legislative alternative to the Volcker Rule.
“If regulators implement the Volcker Rule in its current form, the repercussions will be devastating to our economy. It will undermine our nation’s ability to compete and make it harder for Main Street businesses to raise capital so they can grow and create jobs. Therefore, we must consider legislative alternatives that will not stifle economic growth and job creation,” said Chairman Bachus.
Chairman Bachus has set a deadline of September 7 for the Committee to hear from interested parties. The deadline will give members of the Financial Services Committee the opportunity to evaluate the comments and legislative recommendations in preparation for a hearing that is being planned for the fall.
This is nearly two months after the deadline for implementation, and Bachus already has the public – and by the public, he clearly means investors and “industry professionals,” I mean, after all, it’s his job to serve the banks – rewriting the rule for him.
Bachus cites the difficulty regulators had in writing the Volcker rule, but of course the ambiguity in the law stems entirely from the lobbying from the financial sector. Contrary to bank lobby opinion, there is a way to specifically target the types of risky trades sought out by the Volcker rule. Banks just want to muddy the issue to keep the casino lights on. To the extent that the Volcker rule needs to be re-written, it needs to be made simpler and clearer about the types of prohibited trades. I’m pretty sure that’s the opposite of what Bachus wants.
Anyway, Bachus put up an email address, email@example.com. Maybe Occupy the SEC will have some thoughts for him.