Financial Regulatory Forum

ANALYSIS-Financial reform to give Obama limited lift at G20

By Caren Bohan

WASHINGTON, June 25 (Reuters) – The win President Barack Obama racked up on U.S. financial regulation reform on Friday will give him a boost at this weekend’s Group of 20 summit in Toronto but probably only a limited one.

In the shadow of the 2007-2009 financial crisis, the United States has often found its regulatory structure the target of fingerpointing by other G20 countries at recent summits.

The package agreed to by a joint House of Representatives and Senate negotiating panel would put new curbs on trading by banks, tighten bank capital rules and toughen regulation of derivatives.

When leaders of the world’s biggest economies get together on Saturday and Sunday, U.S. officials hope to show they are leading by example when it comes to cracking down on the risk-taking that helped set the stage for the crisis.

But Obama’s effort to showcase U.S. progress on the issue may get overshadowed to some degree by a debate over economic stimulus and deficit reduction that is set to take center stage at the summit.

Top Republican senator, White House clash on financial reform

McConnell says 'No'

McConnell says 'No'

   By Kevin Drawbaugh
   WASHINGTON, April 13 (Reuters) – The White House said “yes we can” on financial regulatory reform on Tuesday, while the top Republican in the U.S. Senate said “no we won’t.” (more…)

ANALYSIS – Obama tackles Wall Street reform in next big push

By Caren Bohan

WASHINGTON, March 25 (Reuters) – Fresh from his victory on landmark healthcare legislation, U.S. President Barack Obama is ready to take on Wall Street.

In the same week Obama signed into law his sweeping healthcare plan, his administration began a publicity blitz to sell his proposal to reshape the financial regulatory system.

Obama held a strategy session on Wednesday with two Democrats, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd and House of Representatives Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, who are leading the effort to pass the plan in Congress.

BREAKINGVIEWS – UK bank tax could raise up to 3.6 billion sterling a year

– The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own –

By George Hay and Hugo Dixon

LONDON, March 24 (Reuters Breakingviews) – A UK bank tax of the sort being advocated by both main political parties could raise up to 3.6 billion pounds a year. The exact sum would depend on which parts of the balance sheet are taxed. But one thing is clear: as a proportion of earnings, RBS and Lloyds would be harder hit than Barclays, HSBC and Standard Chartered.

The most basic way of levying the tax would be to follow what President Barack Obama has proposed for the United States. He wants to levy a 0.15 percent annual charge on a bank’s total assets — minus its deposits and Tier 1 capital. Applying that to the five big UK banks would raise 3.6 billion pounds annually, according to Reuters Breakingviews analysis.

Obama reasserts Volcker rule, U.S. Senate bill seen

WASHINGTON, March 3 (Reuters) – The Obama administration reasserted its commitment to banning proprietary trading by banks with draft legislative language on Wednesday, despite signs that the U.S. Congress is unlikely to adopt such a rule.

In a scant five pages from the Treasury Department, the administration put a two-year phase-in on its “Volcker rule” to curb “prop trading” — or buying and selling of investments on financiers’ own books unrelated to customer needs.

The rule would apply to banks, with limits slapped on large, non-bank financial firms, as well. In addition, banks would be barred from sponsoring or investing in hedge funds and private equity funds, under the administration’s language.

Obama lays out “Volcker rule” specifics for Congress

By Karey Wutkowski and Rachelle Younglai

WASHINGTON, March 3 (Reuters) – U.S. banks would be banned from proprietary trading and other large financial firms would face quantitative limits on such activity, according to draft language on the so-called “Volcker rule” from the Obama administration.

The language maintains the toughest components of the proposal first floated in January, despite skepticism from lawmakers and the industry that such restrictions would do little to prevent another financial meltdown like the one that seized markets in 2008.

Banks would also be banned from investing in or sponsoring hedge funds and private equity funds, according to a draft version of the legislative language obtained by Reuters. A final version of the language is expected to be sent to lawmakers later on Wednesday.

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.

U.S. Fed Vice Chairman Kohn to step down, Obama gets chance to reshape

By Mark Felsenthal

WASHINGTON, March 1 (Reuters) – Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Donald Kohn, a 40-year veteran of the U.S. central bank, will step down in late June, giving President Barack Obama a chance to reshape the institution.

In a letter to Obama released on Monday, Kohn, who has served as the Fed’s No. 2 since June 2006, said he will depart when his current term as vice chairman expires on June 23.

“The Federal Reserve and the country owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Don Kohn for his invaluable contributions over 40 years of public service,” Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said in a statement.

ANALYSIS – U.S. trader tax plan faces big hurdles

By Kim Dixon and Doris Frankel

WASHINGTON/CHICAGO, Feb 19 (Reuters) – The Obama administration’s proposal to end preferential tax treatment for derivatives traders — a move that critics say would raise the cost of trading — faces steep hurdles if it is ever to become law.

Among the obstacles standing in the way of the administration’s plan to increase taxes for derivatives professionals: a political stalemate in Congress, an influential lobby on Capitol Hill and the fact that the plan is not included in any financial reform legislation.

“I don’t think this has much of a chance at all — this is a very strong lobby and prior efforts have been roundly rejected,” said Anne Mathias, an analyst at Concept Capital.

Obama stimulus plan halted economic freefall – White House report

WASHINGTON, Feb 16 (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama’s $787 billion stimulus prevented another Great Depression while creating or preserving 2 million jobs, according to a White House report to be released on Wednesday.

The report, signed by Vice President Joe Biden who oversees how stimulus money is spent, stressed the depth of the crisis confronting Obama when he took office 13 months ago, as the President constantly reminds Americans in his speeches.

But it also highlighted Obama’s challenge of trying to cut a 9.7 percent jobless rate that has fueled voter discontent.