Securities Attorney Briefing 21 August 2019

FDIC approves Volcker revamp, in latest move to roll back bank rules

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. board voted 3-1 Tuesday to give big banks more leeway to make risky short-term bets in financial markets by loosening a landmark but highly contentious regulation known as the Volcker rule. The FDIC and four other independent agencies have dropped their proposal to tie the rule to a strict accounting standard — a move that banks argued would have made it more burdensome by subjecting additional trades to heightened supervision. Instead, regulators will give banks the benefit of the doubt on a much wider range of trades, according to the text of the final rule. Democrats immediately slammed the Trump administration for loosening the rule, which was mandated by the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act in an effort to protect depositors’ money from being used by banks to turn a quick profit on short-term price changes in stocks, bonds and other financial assets. The rewrite “will not only put the U.S. economy at risk of another devastating financial crisis, but it could potentially leave taxpayers at risk of having to once again foot the bill for unnecessary and burdensome bank bailouts,” House Financial Services Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) said in an email. “The final rule published today would curtail prohibitions in a manner that Congress never intended and allow Wall Street megabanks to

gamble with the same types of risky loan securitizations that turned toxic in 2008, at a time when these risky products are once again on the rise,” Waters added. The Volcker rule — a 2013 regulation named after former Federal Reserve Board Chairman Paul Volcker, who came up with the concept — bars banks from making risky trades on their own behalf and restricts them from owning hedge funds or private equity funds. It has long come under fire for its complexity and has been a source of dissatisfaction for the regulators themselves. More: