With the passing of the Dodd-Frank Bill, one pesky thing that banks have had to spent a couple hours getting in line with is the Volcker Rule, and what it means for their proprietary trading desks. Whether to spin them off, send the employees to a farm in the country where they can run around, move them to the basement or just rename the group the ‘troprietary prading’ unit, about which no one will be the wiser, the whole thing has been a bit of a headache. One person who hasn’t lost any sleep over the mandate, however, is Vikram Pandit. Because unlike his counterparts at say, Goldman, who’ve clutched their pearls and felt faint at the thought of a world without prop, Vickles got behind the rule before it was even a twinkle in Volcker’s eye. Read more »
Paul Volcker, President Obama’s special advisor on financial regulatory reform, appears to have endorsed the main bill sponsored by Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut. Although details are still being worked out, Congress is moving to pass the bill by the end of the month. Read more »
The Volcker Rule -aka the euthanasia principle- got some fresh backers over the weekend, with five former Treasury secretaries sending a letter to the WSJ to voice their support. While this must be good news (late wedding gift?) for Paul, the former secretaries don’t add much to the initial argument. They’re just reiterating what Paul’s been saying from the start: This is just one component of a much broader picture, banks should not engage in speculative activity unrelated to essential bank services, prop trading is a bad, bad, thing. Right. Doesn’t do much to convince the haters.
In other news, today is National Margarita Day.
Got to give it up for Volcker, who, despite growing uproar against his proposed eponymous rule, is soldiering on, saying it’s the best thing that ever happened since well, ever. Volcker is however getting increasingly frustrated and said he is “very disturbed” by the level of dysfunction in Capitol Hill and the Senate, and basically, WTF is going on with these people who can’t get things done?
In a CNN interview yesterday, Volcker said that regulators screw up big time in the years leading to the crisis, as a) they weren’t “on top” of anything and b) they didn’t understand what was going on anyway, relying on “somebody down in the bowels had it under control.” Also financial innovation sucks. The only innovation that has added value recently, is the ATM machine.
The Volcker Rule is not gaining popularity, with many people distancing themselves from the proposal- with Senator Dodd most recently saying the thing’s a bad idea. A source close to the matter tells us that now, chances for it to be enacted are getting very slim and that even Barney Frank is sort of, “not enthused” with it either. According to the source, Frank’s beef is that he doesn’t understand why the White House is making such a push, as regulators would have the authority to implement the proposed changes, and he’s questioning the necessity for Congress to revisit it. “It was s political move in the sense that the more you band against big banks, the more you help yourself politically. But they miscalculated on that one, ’cause it wont be beneficial for them in the end.”
The Volck-Man, who will testify later today before the Senate Banking Committee on his prop trading rule, would first and foremost like everyone to understand that the rule is part of a broader structural reform, which he summarizes elegantly this way: The idea is that a designated agency be provided authority to intervene and take control of a major financial institution on the brink of failure. The mandate is to arrange an orderly liquidation or merger. In other words, euthanasia not a rescue.