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 »
The Principal Strategies group has a new home starting in January. Read more »
The bank plans to hold off on announcing the wind-down while the 65 to 70 members of the global unit seek new jobs, the people said. Some traders and support staff may get roles within the firm. Earlier plans for most members of the Principal Strategies group, led by Hong Kong-based Morgan Sze, to leave together and form a hedge fund were shelved, people with knowledge of the matter said. Now Sze, 44, may set up a fund with a smaller team focused on Asia, they said. Employees in London and New York are considering different options, the people said. The team’s members in New York, led by Bob Howard, are in talks to join another asset-management firm, according to two people. [Bloomberg]
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 Brits are jumping on the Volcker Rule-hating bandwagon, because a) the rule is stupid, b) it’ll make them lose a boatload of money, and c) screw you US, (Obama, Timmy, Paul) if you think you can just go at it alone. Barclays’ CEO John “profits are not satanic” Varley said that the proposal was “completely irrelevant” and that the idea of breaking big banks was just dumb as “size is irrelevant.”
I don’t think something simplistic like prohibiting proprietary trading in banking is the answer.
Varley, who’s getting more irritated by the week, would also like to remind people that he never asked anyone – and certainly not the FSA- the permission to buy Lehman. So he doesn’t really see the point of responding to anyone now, especially since Barclays is the best bank ever.
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.