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美联储计划修改《沃尔克法则》,银行监管或再生变

国际资讯监管与政策

美联储计划修改《沃尔克法则》,银行监管或再生变

一周多前,美国立法者废除了地标性银行监管法案《多德-弗兰克法案》(Dodd-Frank)的许多核心内容。该法案的理念是,确保不出现“大而不倒”的银行,同时让银行远离2008年金融危机前不断累加的高风险行为。

如今,美国银行业监管又有新动作。比如,近日美联储就提议对《沃尔克法则》(Volcker Rule)条款进行修改。不过,在提案通过之前还要经过证券交易委员会等联邦监管机构审议,同时公开征求意见,并最终等待投票表决结果。

什么是《沃尔克法则》?

《沃尔克法则》生效于2014年4月。该法案的目前主要是禁止银行进行特定投资行为,同时限制他们可以与对冲基金及私募基金进行的交易种类和数量,这其中就包括短期自营交易衍生品、证券、大宗商品期货以及这些投资的期权。

《沃尔克法则》的核心理念就是,危险投资行为永远不会对真正的银行客户有利。因此其限制银行用储户的钱进行投机性交易并因此获利,因为十年前正是这种投机行为导致了金融危机。《沃尔克法则》借鉴1933年的《格拉斯-斯蒂格尔法案》(Glass-Steagall),后者彻底将高风险、有趣的投资银行业务与无聊的商业银行业务分开。一些主张金融监管的人士认为,目前《沃尔克法则》的规定其实并不够严格。

《沃尔克法则》如何改变?

根据美联储的提议,银行无需证明他们每一笔交易都非投机性。他们还可以对冲:进行交易以对冲其他交易的风险。美联储提议,对交易资产和债务低于10亿美元并且过去90天内每天盈利或亏损不超过2500万美元的小额交易银行,相关机构应当放松监管。

不过,交易资产和债务在100亿美元及以上的银行仍将面临最严格的规定,虽然现在他们仍然可以在有限范围内进行交易。

在所有新提案支持者中,有一个人的出现让人颇感意外。他就是Paul Volcker。他曾任美联储主席,而《沃尔克法则》正是以他的名字命名的。

他在近日发布的声明中表示:"我支持简化《沃尔克法则》的努力。重要的是简化不能损害核心原则,那就是纳税人支持的所有规模的银行不能参与与基本公共利益和客户利益相悖的自我交易。"

批评者认为新提案恰恰使此类交易成为可能,允许银行进入2008年前华尔街的疯狂态势。

只有时间才能验证新规定是否会引起银行的投机狂潮。但300年的经济历史显示,放松金融监管总是会在社会情势不错时发生,而之后金融崩溃就会伴随而来。现在美国失业率处于历史低位、通胀不高、股票牛市,一切看起来欣欣向荣。但问题是,是不是好得有点不真实了?

A little over a week ago, US lawmakers dismantled key parts of a landmark bank regulation bill known as Dodd-Frank. The spirit of Dodd-Frank was to make sure that no bank would ever be too big to fail, and to keep banks from engaging in the kind of shady behavior that precipitated the 2008 financial crisis.

Now the US Federal Reserve is rolling back even more bank regulations, with a proposal to gut the Volcker Rule. To go into effect, the proposal must now be reviewed by other federal regulation agencies, like the Securities and Exchange Commission, released for public comment, and voted on.

Wait, what’s the Volcker Rule?

Effective since April 2014, the Volcker Rule stops banks from certain kinds of investing. It also curbs how much business they can do with hedge funds and private equity funds, including short-term proprietary trading of derivates, securities, and commodity futures, and options on any of those investments.

The thesis of the Volcker Rule is that risky investment behavior will never benefit a bank’s actual costumers. It therefore makes it much harder for banks to make speculative bets—and profit off of—their depositors’ money, the kind of behavior that contributed to the financial crisis. It recalls Glass-Steagall, a 1933 law that fully separated high-stakes, fun, investment banking from the boring world of commercial banking.

If that sounds broad and vague, that’s partially because it is—one of the many criticisms the current Fed has of the rule. In contrast, some financial regulation advocates think even the current Volcker Rule isn’t strict enough.

How is the Volcker Rule changing?

According to the Fed’s proposal, banks will no longer have to prove that each and every one of their trades is not speculative. They can also now hedge: performing trades meant to counteract risks in other parts of the bank. The new proposal further loosens regulations on banks with trading assets and liabilities of less than $1 billion, and at small-volume trading desks that haven’t made or lost more than $25 million each day for the past 90 days.

Banks with trading assets and liabilities of $10 billion or higher will still be forced to follow the strictest rules, though they can now trade for themselves on a limited basis.

The new proposal has a surprising supporter—Paul Volcker, the former Fed chair for whom the bill was named. “I welcome the effort to simplify compliance with the Volcker Rule,” he said in a statement issued today. “What is critical is that simplification not undermine the core principle at stake—that taxpayer-supported banking groups, of any size, not participate in proprietary trading at odds with the basic public and customers’ interests.” Meanwhile, critics argue that’s exactly what the new proposal does, allowing banks to re-enter pre-2008 Wall Street wild country.

Only time will tell if the new rule could spur a speculative frenzy at banks. But 300 years of economic history suggest that financial regulatory rollbacks have an eerie way of coming back when times are good—and right before a financial meltdown. With unprecedentedly low US unemployment, calm inflation, and a bull market, things definitely seem good. The question is whether they’re too good to be true.


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