White House Bites Bullet, Puts Out Volcker Rules

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Volcker the person, not the rule.Photo: Getty Images

Well, it finally happened. After much feisty rhetoric (and even more anticipatory grumbling), the White House introduced financial-regulation legislation yesterday that includes the Volcker Rules. The legislation, championed by former Fed chairman Paul Volcker, essentially bans big banks that take FDIC-insured deposits from investing in hedge or private-equity funds and making proprietary trades. Banks like Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs that use proprietary trading to make up 2 to 10 percent of their trades (well, so they say) are most likely to be directly affected by this, but they've made it clear that they intend to find ample loopholes in the legislation through which they could operate almost as they did before. That's even though Obama has been using his best tough-talking tone over the bill, and Volcker himself thinks it's pretty beefy. "I have not seen the final version," he told the Times. "But from what I understand, it is good, tough language." In the end, it may not get to the point where bankers have to try to make proprietary trades look like client services. Congress, including Democratic Senate Banking Chair Chris Dodd, is extremely wary of the bill, and its prospects don't look too great now that Obama has set it loose.

White House Offers Bill to Restrict Big Banks’ Actions [NYT]
Related: Why the Volcker rules are a great political idea — even though the real problems may lie elsewhere [NYM]