By Simon Johnson
Substantive discussion in the House-Senate financial reform reconciliation conference is focusing on the Lincoln amendment, with some back-and-forth on the Volcker Rule (as manifest in the Merkley-Levin amendment). The FT reports today that Paul Volcker is no longer opposed to the Lincoln approach – now it has become clear that this is really just about (substantially) raising the capital that banks need to back derivatives trading. And the influential Tom Hoenig, of the Kansas City Fed, appears to be strongly in the Lincoln camp.
While our most experienced regulators weigh in, the lobbyists start to struggle. The mobilization of broader support against gutting the legislation also helps – the earlier Senate debate has raised sensitivity levels and there is a new concentration to the public scrutiny. The reconciliation process itself is much more open than would ordinarily be the case – a result of outside pressure.