• Castrated Wall Street Bill Passes Committee, Sent to Languish in House and Senate

    Early this morning — following an epic 20-hour arm-wrestling match between progressive legislators and legislators who were being paid by banks to oppose reform — some kind of agreement of some kind was reached by Congressional negotiators shaping the tumultuous Wall Street bill

    Wall Street won a number of battles, but broadly speaking the conference committee strengthened the legislation in some ways, weakened it in others, and for the most part the final bill pretty closely resembles the legislation that passed the Senate this spring.

    Big banks won one big fight yesterday, which will allow banks to continue investing a significant amount of equity in hedge funds. But that was in the context of a greater battle over whether banks should be allowed to make speculative trades with their capital… and they lost that one.

    The more dramatic tussle was over a provision, authored by Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), meant to force big financial firms to spin off their derivative trading desks into separate affiliates that do not enjoy federal protections. The haggling over that provision dragged on past midnight. Wall Street largely lost, having pushed hard for months to get it scrapped entirely. However, big firms will retain the ability to trade derivatives in house for the purposes of hedging their own risk…

    Now the legislation goes back to each chamber for a final vote. Bank-friendly House Dems will have to support the bill for it to pass. In the Senate it will likely be held to a 60-vote threshold. With two Democrats continuing to oppose the bill from the left, Dodd and Majority Leader Harry Reid will have to woo the same Republicans who supported the bill the first time around, with little to no margin for error.

    Does that mean anything to anyone? Sounds kind of good and kind of bad, doesn't it? I definitely liked the part where it said, "force big financial firms to spin off their derivative trading desks into separate affiliates that do not enjoy federal protections," I think. That's a thing that I should think is a good thing to do, right?

    But I think that I am very angry about the "big firms will retain the ability to trade derivatives in house for the purposes of hedging their own risk" part? All I know for certain is that I am maybe very conflicted.


    Tags: Blanche Lincoln, Chris Dodd, Economy, Harry Reid, House of Representatives, Money, Senate, Wall Street

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