Financial Regulatory Forum

U.S. bank trading plan could create loopholes – EU official

By Huw Jones

LONDON, Feb 1 (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama’s plans to curb proprietary trading will be hard to define and could create regulatory loopholes for banks to exploit, a top European Union official said on Monday.

Obama’s “structural” reform was very different to the regulatory approach adopted by the EU and globally via the G20 group of countries which focuses on toughening up the Basel bank capital rules, said David Wright, deputy chief of the European Commission’s internal market unit.

“This has not been done in the traditional way,” Wright said of the Obama plan.

“It’s going to be difficult to define this… We look forward to seeing the U.S. definition,” Wright told an industry event.

The Commission is coordinating the EU’s response to the financial market crisis, saying the G20 agenda would be its blueprint.

BREAKINGVIEWS-Obama reforms could undermine global bank rules

G20/ By Peter Thal Larsen and Hugo Dixon

LONDON, Jan 25 (Reuters Breakingviews) – The overhaul of the global financial system has entered a new, more complicated phase. For two years, a fragile multilateralism has prevailed as the world’s largest economies agreed that changes should be designed and adopted on a global basis. The task of redesigning financial regulation was largely delegated to central bankers, regulators and other technocrats.

That consensus is creaking following President Barack Obama’s double-barrelled attack on Wall Street investment banks. The new tax on banks’ wholesale liabilities and the planned prohibition of proprietary trading by deposit-taking institutions both complicate the aim of getting a new effective global regime for regulating the industry — but in different ways.

Look first at the new tax. In principle, it is sensible to charge large financial institutions for the implicit guarantee they receive from taxpayers when they rely on hot short-term money to fund themselves. But there is already a global push, under the aegis of the G20, to boost the size of banks’ capital and liquidity cushions. This exercise, being masterminded by the Basel Committee, has now entered the “calibration” phase — where the precise numbers are being modelled.

Europe welcomes Obama bank plan, won’t imitate it

By Keith Weir and Crispian Balmer

LONDON/PARIS, Jan 22 (Reuters) – Major European economies offered support on Friday for U.S. President Barack Obama’s plan to limit banks’ size and trading activities but indicated they had no plans to follow suit.

Obama’s dramatic proposals could rewrite the world financial order but experts said they were light on detail and could cloud the global approach fostered by the Group of 20 nations.

The European Union will not imitate Obama’s plan, because it aims to reduce risk in the sector through other means, an EU source said on Friday.

SCENARIOS-How Obama’s bank reforms could affect banks

NEW YORK, Jan 21 (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama is looking at limiting risk-taking at banks.

But his proposals on Thursday were tantalizingly vague. He said he wanted to limit the amount of borrowing that banks can do relative to their peers and limit their trading activities to buying and selling securities to customers.

But it is not clear whether relative borrowing limits will be low enough to force banks to reduce their debt. And the line between buying and selling securities on behalf of customers, and doing so on behalf of the bank, can be blurry.

Obama threatens fight with banks on new risk rules

By Jeff Mason and Kevin Drawbaugh

WASHINGTON, Jan 21 (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama threatened to fight Wall Street banks on Thursday with new proposals to limit financial risk taking, sending stocks and the dollar tumbling.

Obama, a Democrat who is struggling to advance his agenda after a key election loss this week, laid out rules to restrict some banks’ most lucrative operations, which he blamed for helping to cause the financial crisis.

“If these folks want a fight, it’s a fight I’m ready to have,” Obama told reporters at the White House, flanked by his top economic advisers and lawmakers.

Obama proposes new U.S. risk rules for banks

By Jeff Mason and Kevin Drawbaugh

WASHINGTON, Jan 21 (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama proposed stricter limits on financial risk-taking on Thursday in a new populist-tinged move that sent bank shares lower and aimed to shore up his own political base.

Obama proposed new rules to prevent banks or financial institutions that own banks from owning, investing in or sponsoring a hedge fund or private equity fund. The rules would also bar institutions from proprietary trading operations, unrelated to serving customers, for their own profit.

Proprietary trading refers to a firm making bets on financial markets with its own money, rather than executing a trade for a client. These expert trading operations, which can bet on stocks and other financial instruments to rise or fall, have been enormously profitable for the banks but also increase market volatility.

Obama to target excessive financial risk-taking

By Alister Bull and Karey Wutkowski

WASHINGTON, Jan 20 (Reuters) – President Barack Obama, reeling from an election defeat in the U.S. Senate, will propose stricter limits on financial risk-taking on Thursday in a move that may recall Depression-era curbs on banks.

The president will announce a series of measures to cut down on excessive risk-taking as part of a revamp of the country’s financial regulatory system, a senior Obama official said on Wednesday.

The move could also help the White House tap into public rage over Wall Street excess after Obama’s Democratic Party was rebuffed by voters in Massachusetts, who elected Republican Scott Brown to the U.S. senate.

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