A group of financial reform, labor, and public interest organizations today warned the Federal Reserve not to water down rules that limit the access of companies owned by private equity firms to emergency lending facilities created during the COVID-19 pandemic. Allies of the industry have pressed the Fed to loosen the affiliation rules for its new Main Street Lending Facility, a step that would ease the way for private equity to access public money despite its ready access to capital markets and uninvested capital.
A provision inserted by Sen. Mike Crapo, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, would encourage Trump-appointed regulators, who have already sought to reduce the minimum amounts of their own risk capital that banks have to hold during the COVID-19 pandemic, to go further. Sen. Susan Collins, sponsor of the part of Dodd-Frank in 2010 that Crapo wants to gut, has already filed an amendment that would strike the part of Republican bill that would make this change. The Senate should follow her lead and preserve minimum statutory thresholds for bank capital.
Cross-border derivatives regulation is the latest area in which Trump appointees are systematically dismantling the post-2008 framework for regulation of Wall Street and the global “too big to fail” banks. Today, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission drastically weakened their rules governing the massive global markets for financial derivatives.
Ten Years of Dodd-Frank: What We Need Next to Create a Resilient, Equitable, and Sustainable Economy
To mark the tenth anniversary of President Obama signing the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act into law, Americans for Financial Reform hosted a series of virtual events asking what we have learned, and what changes we think are needed now to protect consumers, uproot systemic racism, and transform finance so that it contributes to a resilient, equitable and sustainable economy.
Now that Wall Street is reporting earnings for a quarter that took place entirely during the coronavirus pandemic, it is clear that the Federal Reserve has bailed out the bankers quite effectively. Workers, families, small businesses, states, and municipalities have not fared nearly as well.
This major crisis demands a massive and swift response, but it must focus first on health care, and then on easing the burdens on everyday people, communities, and small businesses who are hardest hit. The McConnell proposal falls far, far short of what the situation demands.
Apart from the obvious fact that this is a public health crisis and should be treated as such, we should all be immensely skeptical of any suggestion from Wall Street that it needs a bailout or any kind of assistance. We need to help people, not profits.
In The News: Financial System Faces Biggest Test Since 2008 as Coronavirus Spreads (The New York Times)
“We are in a much more fragile situation than we should be because the regulators haven’t been on the job,” said Marcus Stanley, policy director for Americans for Financial Reform. “This is a real economic crisis we’re facing.”
In August regulators issued a rule that dramatically weakened the Volcker Rule limits on direct proprietary trading by banks. Today, they have proposed new changes that would greatly weaken restrictions on banks taking risks through ownership of external funds, including venture capital funds and securitization vehicles like collateralized debt obligations.
In revising the Volcker Rule’s proprietary trading ban last year, the regulators had already relaxed one component of the limits on investment in funds, clarifying the industry’s ability to do so on behalf of clients. Backing off some of the fund restrictions will “complete the process of neutering the rule,” Marcus Stanley, policy director at Americans for Financial Reform, said in a criticism of the regulators’ actions last year.