Frank Says Financial Rules Bill `Tougher’ Than He Hoped


Barney Frank on today’s bill:

“I think we have a tougher bill than we’d been hoping to get… In every case, the informed opinion was that we’d never get it done. In fact, we did.”On the agreement reached today:

“It is in the House, because we don’t need 60%…Senator Dodd has done an excellent job. He was conscious throughout of the need to keep 60 votes. Frankly, there are some things in the bill that are not there that I would have liked there. I think we have done a great deal more than many thought we could. I believe Senator Dodd is on track to get the 60 votes.”

On whether the bill will make American banks less profitable:

“It depends…To the extent that bank profits on things other than lending go down, I think that is a good thing. Banks were set up with deposit insurance to accumulate capital and make it available to people doing things productively….I already helped get a bill through on reducing profits banks make on credit cards. I’m proud of that. I think they have overcharged people on the fees.”

“Yes, an increasing amount of what has been done by not just banks, but also investment houses — we have seen too much financial activity for its own sake, rather than what it should be, a means to the end of productive capacity. Yes, I hope we will have shrunk some of this trading with each other on synthetic derivatives that like fantasy football rather than having any real economic activity. I think it would be a healthy thing if some of the profits made on some of those financial shenanigans would shrink.”On Senator

Lincoln’s provisions being modified:

“Senator Lincoln was perfectly satisfied. There were two provisions that she put forward. The one I had trouble with, she acquiesced. One was to push derivatives out of the banks…She also had in there a requirement for a fiduciary responsibility between people doing swaps with pension funds and others. The pension funds objected. She acquiesced and we fixed that one. On the basic part, on the derivatives, it’s essentially what she asked for. I want to stress there were two aspects of the derivatives. Even more important, no matter who does them, they had to be made much more transparent. They had to have capital requirements. I believe we achieved that.”

On the Volker rule and derivatives provision:

“A 3% investment, we don’t think that endangers the bank, especially since there are other restrictions. There are strict restrictions on derivatives. There were strict restrictions on making loans and selling the whole loans. Yes, I believe that what we have done here, the 3% maximum, is perfectly reasonable. I do not think a 3% investment will endanger them.”

On whether American banks will be at a disadvantage compared to international banks:

“I’ve had more conversations with international leaders now than ever before. [Before] my ocus had been domestic.”

“There is a widespread agreement that the European Union and the United Kingdom, I’ve spoken to people in Canada and others, to all move in the same direction. There’s not one government internationally that can do it and there shouldn’t be. But there is general movement in the same direction.”

“For instance, one of the things I heard from one of my conservative friends here was setting up an independent consumer bureau was a terribly radical idea because you’re going to have the bureau not care about the safety and soundness of the bank. That has just been done in England.

“As a result of the leadership we’ve taken — the president urged us to get this done by yesterday– although, there were other reasons to get it done. I think you will see American leadership lead to more regulation worldwide.”

On whether there is the need for a separate bank tax in addition to the $19B levy:

“I think there may be. We have required the financial institutions to pay for regulating themselves and some of the damages they have caused. We had people who made bad decisions to borrow money and we cannot bail them out, I’m sorry that they did that, we can try to ease the pain in other ways. I’m talking about mortgages. There are people who make very irresponsible decisions to take a mortgage and they cannot pay them now because of unemployment has been so much worse. We set up a fund to lend them money, not give it to them, to pay their mortgages, and then they have to pay it back. I think that it is fair to have the people who helped create the mortgage crisis pay for that. That’s a $2B fund.”

“The amount we are asking the large financial institutions to contribute every year — it is certainly in their bonus pool… I believe there’s room to get revenue from the banks. Partly because our bill will only be in existence for five years, this is a onetime $19 billion assessment.”

On Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac:

“My Republican colleagues like to forget the fact that during the 12 years they controlled Congress, they did nothing about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. When the Democrats took power in 2007, we passed a bill that gave them the power to put them into conservatorship. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac today are not what they were, thanks to a bill passed by a Democratic congress…They are in conservatorship. The notion that we haven’t done anything is a lie, and they know that.”

“We need to restructure housing in general. So, we plan to do that. The Republicans have no plan. We asked them how soon they wanted to do this. They said, three to five years. We’re on track to do that, we have put them into conservatorship. They do not now resemble what they were before. We now will try to figure what will replace Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac because you will not have this public- private hybrid….Let’s work together to get a system put in place. That’s what we’re doing.”

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