As reported by Andrew Ross Sorkin from DealBook, usually, it is the banks that are fighting efforts to impose new regulations on the industry. Now, it is foreign governments fighting against bank regulations in the United States.
In the halls of last week’s annual meeting of the World Economic Forum here, Wall Street’s top bankers found a curious ally in their battle to end — or perhaps water down — the Volcker Rule, that part of last year’s Dodd-Frank financial regulation law that says that banks are not allowed to participate in “proprietary trading.” Translation: Banks can’t make risky bets with their own money. The idea, rooted in ending the too-big-to-fail phenomenon, is to separate the risky casino element of Wall Street from the utility role of helping finance the economy.
Yet finance ministers from around the world lined up to whisper in the ear of Timothy Geithner, the Treasury secretary, who made the rounds in Davos on Thursday and Friday, about a specific element of the Volcker Rule that has them apoplectic: The rule says that United States banks — and possibly certain foreign banks that do business in America — would be restricted in trading foreign government bonds. Yet the rule, conveniently, provides an exemption for United States government securities. Every other country is out of luck.