House and Senate conferees reached a deal on a final financial regulatory reform package last night (this morning?) at 5:39 a.m., with junk food wrappers strewn about the hallowed chamber. What were the final agreements in this, the Dodd-Frank bill?
Three main areas of disagreement were hammered out late in the hot, swampy night. (Although they were blasting the air conditioning.) (Your tax dollars!)
- Derivatives: Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln, who had inserted a harsh proposal that would've forced big banks to spin off their entire derivative desks into separately capitalized affiliates, blinked late at night — mostly under direct pressure from a coalition of New York Democrats who had threatened to torpedo the entire package should her language remain. The new language will only require them to spin off the riskiest derivatives units, like naked default swaps and other "bets" that aren't taken to directly hedge firms' other positions.
- Volcker Rule: The proposed "Volcker Rule" — named after kindly old Paul Volcker, former Fed chairman and current Obama adviser — which banks hated like the dickens (or at least pretended to), would have banned depository institutions from proprietary trading, or making bets for their own sake, not on behalf of clients. The rule remains largely in place, but now "would prohibit a banks from investing more than 3 percent of their capital in private equity or hedge funds." Three percent isn't as strict as zero percent, but is better than ten million percent! Eh? (This was loosened to win naked Sen. Scott Brown's vote.)
- Auto dealers: The new, independent (but Federal Reserve-housed) Consumer Financial Protection Agency will not be able to oversee or write binding rules covering the practices of 18,000 auto dealers, who tend to set up camp outside immobile military bases and rip off military families, constantly, with shitty liar deals. Ace job, auto lobbyists! Ugh.
So it could've been worse! This is still a stronger bill than the House version passed last fall, which usually isn't how things work. On the other hand, there are still five or six banks that control most of the country's wealth and will do whatever they want, forever.
[Image via AP]