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Advocates may reinstate Glass-Steagall if Volcker Rule could not curb risky bets

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December 9
4:37 AM 2013

Politicians and advocates from both Democratic and Republican Parties in the US are reportedly prepared to revive a law similar to the Depression era statute Glass-Steagall should the Volcker rule could not limit certain investments and trades. Five government agencies in the US are set to wrap up the Volcker rule tomorrow after experiencing resistance from Wall Street for over three years.

The Volcker rule is a section of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform that aims to to reduce high-risk, speculative investments to be made by US banks. Named after original proponent, economist and former United States Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, the rule was set to address the effects of speculative trading activity by banks, which was said to have played a key role to the 2007-2010 financial crisis. On the other hand, the Glass-Steagall was a US statute with similar intentions, but was shunned by the US government by then President Bill Clinton as certain provisions allowed commercial banks to circumvent the act, according to multiple business and law journals.

Policy director Marcus Stanley for Americans for Financial Reform said about legislators who are planning to propose amendments to the trading and investment ban, "If people aren't satisfied with the implementation of this thing, that'll redouble the pressure to go back and look for something else. The Volcker rule was the major thing that said that these guys just crashed the world economy and we're going to ban something." The Americans for Financial Reform is an umbrella group of over 250 organizations that are clamoring for tighter restrictions on Wall Street.

Bloomberg pointed out that legislators had been facing the challenges of introducing exemptions on the ban, especially for some market-making and hedging trades. The Volcker rule aimed to curb the chances banks will be using federally insured depositors' money into making risky bets.

In a testimony to the US Congress in 2010, Volcker said, "The basic point is that there has been, and remains, a strong public interest in providing a ‘safety net' -- in particular, deposit insurance and the provision of liquidity in emergencies -- for commercial banks carrying out essential services. There is not, however, a similar rationale for public funds, taxpayer funds, protecting and supporting essentially proprietary and speculative activities."

Banks that include Goldman Sachs Group Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co and Morgan Stanley had argued that Volcker's proposal was poorly defined that it could restrict credit and hike up costs for its clients.

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