JPMorgan, the Volcker Rule, and the Extreme Brevity of Financial Memory | Coffee Party News |


 . . . But as the banks and their lobbyists surely knew, the devil is in the details. So, as the public began to forget its outrage, the lobbyists began to get to work. First, the most meaningful proposals, like bringing back Glass-Steagall, or getting rid of too-big-to-fail banks by breaking them up, were tossed aside. What was left became the Dodd-Frank bill, passed in the summer of 2010. In the year following the bill's passage, over two-dozen pieces of legislation were put into the mix to weaken it.

According to Public Citizen, members of Congress who support a weakened version of the rule raked in 35 times more in contributions from the financial industry than those who support a strong version -- $66.7 million to $1.9 million. And as lobbying intensified this spring, lawmakers were, as Bloomberg News put it, "signaling they're receptive" to revising the rule. Sounds like something out of a nature documentary -- modern democracy's equivalent of wild animals signaling they're receptive by lifting their behinds.

And now comes the JPMorgan trading loss -- exactly the kind of thing the Volcker Rule is supposed to prevent. "JPMorgan Chase has a big hedge fund inside a commercial bank," said Boston University economics professor Mark Williams. "They should be taking in deposits and making loans, not taking large speculative bets." Or, as Felix Salmon put it, the bank was "using its Chief Investment Office to gamble with taxpayer-backstopped funds." Once again, the taxpayer is the ATM at the Wall Street casino -- exactly what all the politicians, responding to our outrage in 2008 and 2009, were never going to let happen again. [MORE]