Saturday, December 21, 2013

Senate Co-Authors of Volcker Rule say Enforcement Will be Critical

In reflecting on the adoption of the Volcker Rule by the federal financial regulators, Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Carl Levin (D-MI), co-authors of Section 619 of the Dodd-Frank Act codification of the Volcker Rule said that enforcement and public accountability will be critical going forward. While they are still reviewing the details of the adopted Volcker Rule, the Senators noted that early indications suggest that common sense has prevailed in the face of even the fiercest special interest lobbying campaigns. In the final Volcker Rule, hedging looks tougher, market-making looks simpler, trader compensation remains appropriately structured, and CEOs are required to set the tone at the top.

Section 619 was, among other things, intended to change the culture and practices at the largest financial firms, noted the Senators, and in the final Volcker Rule the financial regulators have taken a serious step forward in mandating critical corporate governance and tone at the top changes.

Further, the Volcker Rule firewall, as embodied in the Merkley-Levin Amendment to Dodd-Frank, remains intact to bars lending banks and their affiliates and subsidiaries from engaging in the speculative, conflict-ridden activities of making bets on the stock, bond, derivatives, and other markets and limits those activities at systemically important nonbank financial institutions. The firewall erected by the regulators acting pursuant  to Section 619 allows for customer-oriented services, such as underwriting and market-making to facilitate capital formation for clients, risk-mitigating hedging activities to permit safe and sound operations, and fund management services for customers.