Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Scramble to Finish Bank Rules This Week

President Obama is meeting with world leaders at the Group of 20 Summit this weekend in Korea. Our financial overhaul regulations need to be completed before the President’s trip and Lawmakers are scrambling to sort out their differences on a range of certain provisions. According to the Wall Street Journal, in their debate they are are discussing everything from bank regulations to consumer protection. If they don’t complete their work this week, Obama will go to the Group of 20 Summit without a bill and Congress might not be able to pass a law before their July 4th recess, which is what they have been pushing for.

One provision under debate is the Volcker Rule (originated by former Federal Reserve Chairman, Paul Volcker) which had originally imposed a ban on banks making investments with their own money—a practice called proprietary trading. Lawmakers are looking to compromise with allowing large banks to invest a small amount, like 2%, into certain privately managed funds. "Mr. Volcker wants and expects a really strong bill," said the former Fed chairman's assistant, Tony Dowd. "He doesn't want it to look like Swiss cheese."

They were also divided about how to set up stricter capital rules for banks with more than $10 billion of assets, as required by an amendment Senator Susan Collins (R., Maine) attached to the Senate bill last month. Banks are saying the new rules would restrict their ability to lend. Lawmakers on Monday did reach a deal that would limit the amount of fees banks are allowed to charge retailers for processing debit cards.

The conference committee of congressional negotiators seeking to resolve differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill plans to work through the consumer-protection issues on Tuesday, the Volcker Rule on Wednesday, and derivatives regulation on Thursday. The timing could slip if lawmakers need more time to resolve disputes. The very reason for the Summit is to discuss measures to promote the financial stability of the world—having our domestic issues worked out would sure look better for the President during the Summit.

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