Financial Regulatory Forum

U.S. financial regulation: Three things to watch, and two not to, in 2011 – Complinet column

MARKETS-STOCK/By Scott McCleskey, Complinet

The past year was a busy one for those interested in financial reform – you know, Dodd-Frank and all that. But the new year will be even more fateful in shaping the markets for decades to come. It is likely to be the most critical of the post-financial crisis period. The reason is that Dodd-Frank only gave the regulators their marching orders, and 2010 mostly saw just the preliminaries to the really tough regulation. It will be in 2011 that actual rules will be proposed, finalized and implemented – and all by mid-year, if deadlines are met. It will also be when the Republicans hit the beach in the House and attempt to moderate or reverse many of the reforms already underway.

There will be a tidal wave of Dodd-Frank work, and some areas of focus are already obvious. The launch and first steps of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will be one, and the rather iffy implementation of derivatives regulation will be another. These items have been and will continue to be covered by this organization and others. But there are other items largely outside the Dodd-Frank ecosystem which bear a close watch over the coming year – and there are also some receiving a lot of press lately which can be ignored. (more…)

FED FOCUS-With broader powers, Fed to face greater scrutiny

By Pedro Nicolaci da Costa

WASHINGTON, June 25 (Reuters) – As officials at the Federal Reserve may soon discover, more isn’t always better.

On the face it, the results of the landmark regulatory reform bill finalized on Friday should have policymakers at the U.S. central bank running victory laps around Congress.

Despite self-professed regulatory shortcomings in the run-up to the worst financial crisis in modern history, the Fed has emerged from legislative reform efforts with its powers greatly enhanced.

“Don’t fight the Fed” gets new meaning in Senate debate

By Rachelle Younglai and Kristina Cooke

WASHINGTON/PHILADELPHIA, May 12 (Reuters) – The shaping of the U.S. financial reform bill has given a new meaning to the old market adage “Don’t Fight the Fed.”

Five months ago, many lawmakers wanted to confine the U.S. central bank to setting monetary policy and acting as a lender of last resort for banks.

Blaming the Fed for missing the warning signs in the run-up to the financial crisis, senators were preparing to step up their scrutiny of the central bank and strip its authority to examine and supervise all banks.

from MacroScope:

Spitzer: NY Fed “an absolute sinkhole”

To say former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer is no fan of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York would be an understatement.

After arguing financial regulatory reform proposals being discussed in Washington fall short, he said:

"One institution needs to be completely overhauled: The New York Fed," he said.

BREAKINGVIEWS-Far too little stress in U.S. bank reform

– The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

By Rob Cox

NEW YORK, April 6 (Reuters Breakingviews) – Improving U.S. bank regulation may call for a little more stress. The disclosure and discipline imposed by the Federal Reserve’s stress tests of big banks a year ago drew a line under the crisis. The tests separated sheep from goats and led to tens of billions of dollars of new capital being raised. It’s a shame that stress tests aren’t becoming an annual event.

The tests have been overshadowed by the Troubled Asset Relief Program. After all, that $700 billion plan to recapitalize the banking system kept institutions like Citigroup, Bank of America and Morgan Stanley from going under. But the TARP scheme was fraught with conflicts still bedeviling the debate over reform, including the problem of bankers paying themselves handsomely on the back of taxpayer bailouts. As a result, few are calling for a repeat of the TARP experience.

ANALYSIS-Deck chairs secure aboard USS Financial Regulation

By Kevin Drawbaugh

WASHINGTON, March 21 (Reuters) – The big U.S. government agencies in charge of policing banks and markets, despite being excoriated over the severe 2008-2009 financial crisis, have successfully dodged a major structural shake-up.

While Congress may yet clamp down on the financial industry from Wall Street to Main Street, a top-to-bottom overhaul of the nation’s regulatory apparatus — which seemed like a certainty a year and a half ago — is not going to happen.

As political reality has tempered reform proposals, plans to reconfigure a patchwork bureaucracy stitched together over decades have faded from view, with just one agency closure still on the negotiating table.

US senators wrestle with Fed bank oversight issues

   By Kevin Drawbaugh and Rachelle Younglai
   WASHINGTON, March 8 (Reuters) – The Federal Reserve could retain oversight of large bank holding companies under a scaled-back regulatory reform plan being considered by key senators, but important questions remained unanswered, lobbyists said on Sunday. (more…)

Bipartisan US financial reform deal uncertain – Sen. Dodd

By Kevin Drawbaugh

WASHINGTON, March 5 (Reuters) – Senator Christopher Dodd, chief negotiator for the Democrats in U.S. Senate talks on financial regulation reform, said on Friday he was uncertain whether bipartisan support for a compromise bill could be achieved.

With one of the Obama administration’s top domestic policy priorities in the balance, Dodd sounded wary but hopeful following weeks of discussions that have snagged on a proposal to create a new financial consumer watchdog.

“While we do not have a bipartisan agreement yet at all, we’re getting there, we’re trying. I don’t know if it will happen or not,” Dodd said in remarks on the Senate floor.

US Fed seeks limit on credit card penalty fees

WASHINGTON, March 3 (Reuters) – The U.S. Federal Reserve on Wednesday proposed another new rule to strengthen consumer protections against abusive practices by credit card issuers, including limiting penalty fees and requiring them to reconsider past interest rate hikes.

The proposed rule would prohibit card issuers from charging late payment fees or other penalty charges that exceed the dollar amount of a consumer’s violation of the account terms.

For example, card issuers would be banned from charging a $39 fee when the card holder is late in making a $20 minimum payment. In such a case, the late fee would be limited to $20, to be paid in addition to the minimum payment.

PENPIX – Whom will Obama name to fill U.S. Fed vacancies?

WASHINGTON, March 3 (Reuters) – President Barack Obama is sifting through candidates for three vacant seats on the Federal Reserve Board, including the No. 2 spot that comes open when Vice Chairman Donald Kohn departs on June 23.

The White House on Tuesday said Obama will move quickly to fill the vacancies on the seven-person board.

The president’s picks will be in position to influence when the Fed raises interest rates and how aggressively it takes on its post-financial-crisis regulatory responsibilities.

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