October 18, 2011
The Glom Told You So
Posted by David Zaring

We've been pro-DF over here, and this correspondent has told you that the real action in curbing bank excesses would come from Basel, to which DF punted many of the hardest issues.  And at this moment, we're looking pretty prescient.  With the most dangerous banks posting sharply lower earnings, and blaming it on regulation, with regulators telling the banks that they need to raise more capital, and that it won't hurt the economy if they do, we may be much closer to that holy grail of smaller, less profitable banks than any of the hand-wringers or libertarians thought possible.

Here's Daniel Drezner on it:

it's not terribly surprising that global regulators will say that they're right and the banks are wrong.  One would expect that the interest group power of Wall Street, however, would have the upper hand.  What is surprising, as the Wall Street Journal's Sara Schaefer Munoz notes, is thatthe banks seem to be losing their battle with regulators:

The tug-of-war between banks and regulators over post-crisis financial rules has so far moved in the watchdogs' favor with banks largely failing to upend the tougher proposals in the U.S. and Europe....

Even before Monday's report, regulators didn't seem responsive to the industry's arguments. In the U.S., lawmakers have already determined that the country's big banks must hold more capital, but haven't yet specified how much.

The Dodd-Frank financial overhaul law, enacted more than a year ago, mandated many new restrictions on banks but left it to regulatory agencies to write the rules. Wall Street and the financial industry have spent millions of dollars lobbying to shape the rules, with little success so far.

They lost in their efforts to block new limits on the fees they can charge merchants when consumers use debit cards. Regulators are expected to vote Tuesday to issue a proposed "Volcker Rule," a part of the Dodd-Frank law designed to curtail trading activities at bank. Now they appear likely to fail in their efforts to block or water down a rule requiring them to hold extra capital.

In 2010, securities and investment firms spent a record $101.6 million on lobbying, up from $92.3 million in 2009, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Through early October 2011, the firms had shelled out $49.5 million.

There are plenty of ways in which large banks can continue to fight the suggested rules, particularly on the implementation side.  Still, this is not how open economy politics traditionally works.  Traditionally, bank preferences are communicated to national governments, which then get expressed in BIS/Basle Committee meetings.  This certainly happened in the actual Basel III negotiations.   This kind of back and forth, in which regulators appear to trump the arguments of the financial sector, is highly unusual


Administrative Law, Financial Crisis, Financial Institutions | Bookmark

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