Financial Regulatory Forum

Largest U.S. banks see themselves in “regulatory spiral” with no clear end

By Henry Engler, Compliance Complete

NEW YORK, Dec. 4 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) – Although five years have passed since the height of the financial crisis, top lawyers at some of the largest U.S. banks see themselves pitted in an escalating, and at times adversarial, battle with regulators, the end of which remains unknown.

At a conference sponsored by the Clearing House on Friday, senior legal representatives from JPMorgan and Bank of America painted a picture of unprecedented enforcement actions and fines across a wide range of issues, adding that the zeal of recent actions could potentially disrupt the supervisory and cooperative relationship that has long existed between banks and regulators. (more…)

Weak U.S. legal oversight puts burden on compliance pros to protect their firms, author says

By Stuart Gittleman

NEW YORK, Sept. 4 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) - An inadequate government and industry response to the financial crisis will require compliance professionals to do more to protect their firms, customers and colleagues, Jeff Connaughton, who said he saw firsthand how reform withered in Congress, has told Compliance Complete.

“Until law enforcement causes actual deterrence, compliance needs to understand what institutional and retail customers can – and can’t – stomach. And those customers need to get back to performing exacting due diligence. Until we have tough law enforcement again, institutional customers will have a greater impact on Wall Street behavior than federal prosecutors,” said Connaughton, a former investment banker, aide in President Bill Clinton’s administration, lobbyist and longtime political associate of Vice President Joe Biden. (more…)

Beyond the numbers: do banks manage risk?

By Rachel Wolcott

LONDON, June 14 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) - It may seem like a subtle difference, but most of what banks call ‘risk management’ is often more akin to ‘risk measurement’. It is a myth that banks are in possession of fancy gadgetry that allows them to measure risk on a minute-by-minute basis from a specialised risk-control tower and react to it effectively, thus averting catastrophe. Instead, the financial crisis and trading losses, such as JPMorgan’s $2 billion blow-up in May, have shown that by the time banks measure and understand their risks, it is too late. Risk management is not about controlling risk, but about offsetting its impact after the fact.

Far from being a powerful high-tech unit within a firm that is charged with hedging risks on a macro basis — the way, for example, that JPMorgan’s chief investment office has been portrayed — risk management is more fragmented and limited. That is why many banks were badly hit when Lehman Brothers collapsed in 2008. It was just too difficult to get a picture of what their positions, exposures and risks were, let alone manage them. This is because, in many cases, banks’ risk management still has more to do with number crunching and measuring risk for compliance and regulatory purposes, such as regulatory capital requirements, credit value adjustment and counterparty risk. Managing risk, however, is something few firms do well, and they are certainly unable to do so in a holistic way. (more…)

U.S. Justice Department unit to ramp up hiring as mortgage probes advance

By Emmanuel Olaoye

NEW YORK, March 6 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) - The U.S. Justice Department plans to step up its hiring of staff to investigate abuses in the packaging of residential mortgage backed securities and to work with regulators to uncover serious fraud, a senior department official told Thomson Reuters in the wake of criticisms that Obama administration efforts were insufficient.

Last week, the former chairman of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission claimed that the government was not doing enough to uncover serious fraud. In a New York Times opinion piece, Phil Angelides said the 55 attorneys, agents and analysts assigned to the administration’s new mortgage packaging Working Group were not enough to uncover serious fraud. Angelides also criticized the absence of federal regulators in the Working Group.  (more…)

Banker-author warns overseers to keep ‘extreme money’ in check

By Stuart Gittleman and Emmanuel Olaoye

NEW YORK, Sept. 19 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) – The “extreme money” and “voodoo banking” that are dominating the global financial system are too smart, too fast, too greedy, too self-absorbed and far too dangerous for traditional legislation and regulation, a veteran banker told Thomson Reuters.

Efforts to prevent another financial crisis are likely to fail unless lawmakers and regulators understand that the forces that drove the crisis of 2008 go back several decades. While keeping an eye on the past, the overseers should also look for the potential risks of proposals claiming to promote growth, and how they are disclosed, Satyajit Das says in his book, Extreme money: masters of the universe and the cult of risk (FT Press, August 2011). (more…)

Financial regulation scorecard

A House-Senate conference committee must find a middle ground between financial regulation bills passed by the two chambers. The committee’s final report could differ from earlier versions.

Once approved by both chambers, the compromise legislation will go to President Barack Obama to sign it into law. That could happen by July 4, analysts say.

Here’s a look at the status of major points in the House and Senate financial regulation bills.

ANALYSIS-Markets fret, but chance of big bank crash slim

By Steve Slater and Alex Chambers

LONDON, May 28 (Reuters) – This week’s market jitters that banks were heading back to the darkest days of 2008 look overdone because lenders have vastly improved their assets and central banks stand ready with abundant funding.

Bank of Spain’s bailout of a small regional bank has brought back the spectre of another systemic crash after the demise of Lehman Brothers in 2008, this time on concerns about the financial sector in the euro-zone’s periphery.

But the conclusion is too hasty, analysts said — and a recovery in markets since the middle of the week is confirming that view.

ANALYSIS-Next phase of financial crisis may be the hardest

By Emily Kaiser

WASHINGTON, May 21 (Reuters) – It took $5 trillion and an unprecedented global coalition of G20 countries to stabilize the economy after investment bank Lehman Brothers collapsed in 2008. Quelling the next phase of the financial crisis may be even harder.

To stop the panic that erupted nearly two years ago, governments transferred a mountain of debt from private to public accounts. Now, those government debts are distressing financial markets and there is nowhere left to shift the burden.

Europe’s clumsy response to Greece’s debt woes highlighted the economic and political headaches that await debt-laden countries and those who finance their borrowing.

Market Structure Moves to Top of Regulatory Agenda

The SEC’s chief said the growing concerns about technological changes in the capital markets are going to drive much of the agency’s agenda for the rest of the year. She fears creation of a two-tier system—one for hedge funds and other large traders and a more limited tier for everyone else. Her goal includes passing a series of rules designed to update the basic principle of market fairness that was established at the agency’s founding during the New Deal, according to Thomson Reuters Checkpoint’s WG&L Accounting & Compliance Alert. (more…)

US Congress Looks for New Ways to Tax Financial Services

During a congressional hearing, lawmakers searched for ways to use the tax code to dampen short-term speculation in the financial markets and close the budget deficit. To fix the problem, they suggested changes in tax structures, including discounted capital gains tax for long-term investors, transaction tax, bank tax, and financial speculation tax, Thomson Reuters WG&L Accounting & Compliance Alert reports.

(more…)

  •