U.S. regulators hand Wall Street a major win with stripped-down 'Volcker Rule'

By Pete Schroeder WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S.

Reuters August 21, 2019 00:05:54 IST
U.S. regulators hand Wall Street a major win with stripped-down 'Volcker Rule'

US regulators hand Wall Street a major win with strippeddown Volcker Rule

By Pete Schroeder

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. banking regulators on Tuesday approved changes easing a rule introduced after the 2007-2009 financial crisis that bans banks from trading on their own account, giving Wall Street one of its biggest wins under the Trump administration.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) approved the revamped version of the so-called "Volcker Rule," which aims to ban lenders that accept U.S. taxpayer-insured deposits from engaging in proprietary trading.

The changes, first proposed in May 2018, followed years of lobbying by banks, including Goldman Sachs Group Inc, JPMorgan Chase & Co and Morgan Stanley, which have long complained the rule is too vague and complex.

The new rule gives banks more leeway in terms of trading activity, and simplifies how banks can tell if that trading is permitted by law.

While many regulatory experts have agreed the prior rule was too cumbersome, the changes have been criticized by consumer groups and Democratic lawmakers who say a rewrite could create new systemic risks.

FDIC commissioner Martin Gruenberg, a Democrat who backed the Volcker rewrite proposed in May 2018, voted against the final rule Tuesday, saying it would "effectively undo" the rule's protections. The other three FDIC board members, all Republicans, voted in favor.

"Trump regulators continue to open a Pandora’s box of risky trading and speculation at the expense of American taxpayers," Senator Sherrod Brown, the top Democrat on the Senate Banking Committee, said in a statement.

Analysts say the final rule, which is significantly different from the proposed 2018 version, could also be vulnerable to legal challenges. The rewrite aims to clarify which trades are exempt from the ban, such as when banks facilitate client trades and hedge risks, and to expand those exemptions. The final rewrite scraps a proposed new test for identifying proprietary trading that banks complained would have made the rule even more complicated.

That proposed "accounting test" was meant to replace a more subjective test that aimed to identify whether a trader intended a trade to be speculative. But banks argued it could apply to a host of additional financial instruments not meant to be covered by the rule.

The final rule scraps that proposal for large Wall Street firms, instead simplifying the original test and only applying it to much smaller banks.

At the same time, the rewrite simplifies a separate part of the rule which makes it easier for banks to invest in hedge funds or private equity funds. Regulators said they expect to propose further easing of the "covered funds" aspect of the rule, including for foreign firms, later this year.

The banking industry hailed the relief, while eager to see regulators put forward that additional relief.

"We urge the regulators to finish the job of Volcker Rule reform," said Kevin Fromer with the Financial Services Forum, an industry group that represents the CEOs of the nation's biggest banks.The rule will become effective on Jan. 1, 2020, but banks will have one year to comply.

The OCC and the FDIC are two of five regulators charged with implementing the rule. The others - the Federal Reserve, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Commodities Futures Trading Commission - are expected to approve the new rule soon.

(Reporting by Pete Schroeder; editing by Michelle Price, Jonathan Oatis and Tom Brown)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:


Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.

also read

Trump says he is willing to spend his own money to win re-election

Trump says he is willing to spend his own money to win re-election

By Jeff Mason WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump, facing the possibility of a cash crunch, said on Tuesday he would spend "whatever it takes" of his own money to finance his 2020 presidential campaign against Democrat Joe Biden if he had to

Brazil finalizing bill to target financiers of 'fake news' attacks

Brazil finalizing bill to target financiers of 'fake news' attacks

By Lisandra Paraguassu BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazilian House Speaker Rodrigo Maia said on Tuesday that lawmakers are currently finalizing the text of a bill targeting those that finance "fake news" attacks on social media sites, adding that it could be voted on by the end of this year. The draft of the Brazilian bill was approved in the Senate on June 30, but the lower house created a working group to suggest modifications. Those changes will be finalized in two weeks, Maia said

Ireland plans to open all pubs on Sept. 21 - minister

Ireland plans to open all pubs on Sept. 21 - minister

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ireland plans to allow the reopening of all pubs on Sept. 21, dropping a ban on bars that do not serve food, a senior minister said on Tuesday.