March 4, 2010

This is very, very interesting news. Is the White House serious, or is this a pro-consumer doggie biscuit to keep the left wing off their back? Here's hoping it's the real thing:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Obama administration waded into negotiations over Wall Street regulations Wednesday, calling for limits on the size of financial institutions and insisting that consumer protections remain a central objective of legislative attempts to rein in the industry.

In the Senate, talks continued on how to create a consumer protection entity. Republicans pressing for a watered-down consumer agency even as they voiced optimism that they could reach a deal with Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd, a Connecticut Democrat, within a week.

The Treasury Department circulated proposed legislation that would prevent commercial banks from carrying out high-risk trades and that would restrict the size of financial firms to holdings no greater than 10 percent of the entire financial industry's liabilities. That restriction would apply only to firms that grow through a merger or an acquisition.

Consumer protections and doing away with financial firms deemed too big to fail are two of the key elements of the legislative efforts to overhaul the rules that govern Wall Street and prevent a recurrence of the 2008 financial crisis. In reiterating its points, the administration was making certain its views were being heard in the Senate at a sensitive time in negotiations between Dodd and Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn.

The plan reiterated a proposal that the administration staked out in January. The measure is known as the Volcker Rule, after former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, a vigorous proponent of limiting proprietary trading by commercial banks. Volcker has been advising the Obama administration.

Corker questioned the administration's timing. "It is not helpful to the process for the administration to be putting out positions right now on financial regs, especially as it relates to the Volcker rule," he told The Associated Press. "It's just not helpful."

Treasury waited until after the markets closed Wednesday to release details of the Volcker plan. When it announced the outline of its proposal in January, the administration spooked U.S. markets, contributing to several days of falling stock prices.

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