November 13, 2011
While the attempt to protect consumers and reinstitute protections that were given prior to the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act in 1999 is admirable, the Volcker Rule, as currently proposed, is flawed. Much of what the intent behind the rule will be watered down by lobbyists, and what is a chance to keep the financial sector in check, will be lost.
My biggest concern with the proposed rule is the length. While regulating can be a complicated task, a 298 page rule is in danger of being too complex to implement. Regardless of the substance of the final rule, an exorbitant amount of money will be spent by financial institutions in litigation. Banks will spend whatever amount of money is required to have courts determine that they do not fall into the precise technical language of the rule, making it inapplicable to them. Should the rule be constructed loosely to allow for case-by-case agency determination, banks will still litigate the Volcker Rule, but courts will be more willing to defer to the SECs expertise, making the applicability of the rule more widespread and effective. This will give more credence to the overall goal of the Volcker Rule, which is consumer protection.
The agency, while taking careful criticism into mind when deciding on the final rule, must be sure that it has not been captured by industry. The legislative intent behind the Dodd-Frank Act was to ensure banks do not speculate against its own customers to their detriment. It is this intent the agency must have in mind when faced with the cries of economic hardship from the financial industry.