Obama Administration Releases Text of “Volcker Rule” Legislation to Restrict Size and Risky Activities of Financial Firms

On March 3, 2010, the United States Department of the Treasury delivered proposed legislative text to Capitol Hill to implement the “Volcker Rule” as previously announced by the Obama Administration on January 21, 2010.  See “What Is Proprietary Trading, and Why Does Its Definition Matter to Hedge Fund Managers?,” Hedge Fund Law Report, Vol. 3, No. 8 (Feb. 25, 2010).  As discussed in this and previous issues of the Hedge Fund Law Report, the Volcker Rule is part of a comprehensive package of reforms intended to create a safer, more resilient financial system.  See “Implications of the Volcker Rule – Managing Hedge Fund Affiliations with Banks,” above, in this issue of the Hedge Fund Law Report.  The rule aims to limit the size and scope of banks and other financial institutions with the goals of “rein[ing] in excessive risk-taking and protect[ing] taxpayers.  See “Senate Banking Committee Hears Testimony from Hedge Fund Industry Experts and Academics on ‘Volcker Rule,’” Hedge Fund Law Report, Vol. 3, No. 6 (Feb. 10, 2010); “Senate Banking Committee Holds Hearings on ‘Volcker Rule’ Designed to Limit Banks’ Ability to Own, Invest In or Sponsor Hedge or Private Equity Funds,” Hedge Fund Law Report, Vol. 3, No. 5 (Feb. 4, 2010).  This new legislative language would add to existing activity restrictions applicable to banking firms by prohibiting the firms from engaging in proprietary trading and investing in or sponsoring hedge funds or private equity funds.  The text also supplements and strengthens existing financial sector concentration limits.  This article summarizes the most salient provisions of the Treasury Department’s proposal, which, if enacted, will take the form of new Sections 13 and 13a of the Bank Holding Company Act of 1956.

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