Financial Regulatory Forum

from Tales from the Trail:

Think brussels sprouts and cauliflower are agricultural commodities? Think again.

While the financial bailouts tossed to automakers, banks and other groups during the recent economic crisis left a funny taste in the mouth of some Americans, one former U.S. regulator hopes efforts to prevent another panic doesn't go rotten.

The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission is immersed in drafting dozens of rules to assist it in increasing oversight of the once opaque over-the-counter derivatives market, widely blamed for exacerbating the recent financial crisis. USA/

Among the rules it must craft is what the definition of an agricultural commodity is? Of course, corn, cotton, soybeans and livestock, among other items, fall into this realm.

 But what about those "other foods" such as brussels sprouts, artichokes, cauliflower, or anything with curry? A former CFTC chairman says they are "abhorrent to American sensibilities" and should be banned.

"Like every U.S. citizen, there are certain agricultural commodities that are abhorrent to me," said Philip McBride Johnson, who is now with the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.

PREVIEW-Final act begins in U.S. Congress on Wall St reform

By Kevin Drawbaugh

WASHINGTON, June 7 (Reuters) – Negotiators from the U.S. Senate and House will begin meeting this week to craft a final Wall Street reform bill, with banks facing changes that threaten their profits, if not their business models.

Some congressional Democrats want to fashion a bill that forces a basic banking industry restructuring, but leaders will have to balance that agenda against the need to forge compromise legislation that retains some Republican support.

Analysts are expecting that fundamental restructuring will be avoided, “This bill is more about profitability and less about viability. That means the legislation will hurt the banking sector, but it will not sink it,” said Jaret Seiberg, a policy analyst at investment firm Concept Capital.

INTERVIEW-Rep Frank: Fed as consumer watchdog home a “joke”

WASHINGTON, March 2 (Reuters) – Representative Barney Frank, chief architect of financial reform in the U.S. Congress, told Reuters on Tuesday he “thought it was a joke” when he learned key senators were discussing putting a new financial consumer watchdog inside the Federal Reserve.

“I thought it was a joke at first, to be honest, with all this denunciation of the Fed,” Frank said in an interview.

“If that’s the price of a Republican deal, then it’s not a good deal and the House wouldn’t accept it,” he said.

US Rep Frank sees ending Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac in current form

WASHINGTON, Jan 22 (Reuters) – Mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are likely to be abolished in their current form, a key lawmaker in the U.S. House of Representatives said on Friday.

“I believe this committee will be recommending abolishing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in its current form and coming up with a whole new system of housing finance. That is the approach rather than the piecemeal one,” said Representative Barney Frank, chairman of the powerful House Financial Services Committee and a Massachusetts Democrat.

Frank made the comments at hearing on executive compensation.    He later told reporters he will hold hearings on the housing finance market and then move to a restructuring of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. He said he would look at Federal home loan banks and the structure of the Federal Housing Administration and Ginnie Mae.

U.S. House OKs Fed audit provision, eyes on Senate

By Mark Felsenthal

WASHINGTON, Dec 11 (Reuters) – The U.S. Federal Reserve on Friday lost the opening round in a battle to defeat a congressional plan to subject its interest rate decisions to audits, and will now look for a comeback victory when the Senate starts to move on regulatory reforms.

The House of Representatives delivered the loss with a 223-202 vote in favor of a revamp of financial regulation that, among other things, would pare Fed supervision over financial firms and its capacity to provide emergency help to banks, while allowing audits of monetary policy by a watchdog agency.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and other top officials for weeks had argued the audit provision would result in a costly impression that the central bank’s rate decisions could be swayed by politics. They warned this could lead financial markets to fear inflationary policies, which in turn could drive up borrowing costs and undermine the economy.

Financial reforms win procedural vote in US House

By Kevin Drawbaugh

WASHINGTON, Dec 9 (Reuters) – The U.S. House of Representatives approved a procedural rule on Wednesday that cleared the way for floor debate to begin on legislation that would give the government broad new powers over large financial firms and tighten bank and capital market regulation.

In a 235-177 vote, Democrats pushed through the rule, with only a handful from their own ranks voting in opposition, after settling differences among themselves over more than 200 proposed amendments. All Republicans voting opposed the rule.

President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats see financial regulation reform as crucial to preventing a repeat of last year’s financial crisis and the taxpayer bailouts that followed of companies such as AIG and Citigroup.

US lawmakers urged to drop clearinghouse ownership cap

U.S. Representative Barney Frank (D-MA) holds a news conference on issues before the House Financial Services Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, November 3, 2009.  REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst   By Jonathan Spicer
NEW YORK, Nov 20 (Reuters) – NYSE Euronext, LCH.Clearnet, BATS Global Markets and other firms partnered with banks have urged two U.S. legislators to drop a proposed “rigid” cap on dealer ownership of clearinghouses, according to a letter sent this week.

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U.S. House Democrats sharpening ‘too big to fail’ plan

U.S. Representative Barney Frank (D-MA) holds a news conference on issues before the House Financial Services Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, November 3, 2009.  REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst    (UNITED STATES POLITICS BUSINESS) By Kevin Drawbaugh
WASHINGTON, Nov 17 (Reuters) – A key U.S. congressional panel moved toward toughening a plan for dealing with “too big to fail” financial firms on Tuesday, while rejecting a Republican alternative backed by Wall Street.

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Banks sense danger, warn U.S. Congress on breakup power

By Kevin Drawbaugh
WASHINGTON, Nov 16 (Reuters) – Some of the world’s largest financial firms on Monday urged a top U.S. lawmaker not to pursue big bank break-up legislation, an idea attracting interest in Congress and causing alarm on Wall Street.

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US Rep. Frank seeks changes in derivatives bill

U.S. Representative Barney Frank (D-MA), Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, listens to a reporter's question during the Reuters Global Financial Regulation Summit in Washington, April 28, 2009.     WASHINGTON, Nov 4 (Reuters) – The chairman of the U.S. House Financial Services Committee is seeking changes to draft legislation for the $450 trillion privately-traded derivatives markets, with the intent of making it harder for banks to avoid trading the contracts on exchanges.

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