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Derivatives Lobby Links With New Democrats to Blunt Obama Plan

• Bloomberg
 

Side by side at 26 Wall St., across from the New York Stock Exchange, freshman congressman McMahon told House Financial Services Committee Chairman Frank he was worried that Obama’s derivatives plan, released in August, would penalize a wide swath of U.S. corporations and could push jobs in his home district overseas, McMahon said in an interview.

“It’s not just the farmers, and it’s not just the Wall Street guys,” said McMahon, a member of the New Democrat Coalition, a group of 68 self-described pro-growth Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives. “It’s across the nation. American industry uses these products for a very useful purpose, which keeps down prices and makes consumer products cheaper.”

McMahon said Frank agreed it was important to protect so- called end-users, the corporations that rely on derivatives to hedge everyday operational risk, such as fluctuations in foreign currency rates, interest rates and commodity prices.
‘Working Together’

“He said we’d be working together on this,” said McMahon, who represents a large constituency of Wall Street workers on Staten Island and in southwest Brooklyn. “We never had a philosophical difference.”

It’s not just end-users who won concessions from McMahon and Frank.JPMorgan Chase & Co.,Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Credit Suisse Group AG lobbied McMahon and fellow New Democrat Coalition member Representative Melissa Bean of Illinois, among others, to expand the ways the legislation allows dealers and major investors to trade the contracts, according to people familiar with the matter.

Bean’s spokesman Jonathan Lipman rejected the notion that the New Democrats made any changes to the bill at the behest of banks.

Loopholes

The battle over derivatives legislation is a test for the Obama administration’s efforts to tighten financial regulation to prevent a repeat of the financial crisis that shook the global economy -- a crisis exacerbated by derivatives trading.

Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat who rose through the ranks in Congress fighting homelessness and advocating for gay and consumer rights, found his handiwork panned by administration officials after he released draft legislationlast week that they criticized as too friendly to business. Frank’s bill allows for no change in how standardized over-the-counter derivatives are traded as long as they are reported to regulators.

Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chairman Gary Gensler and Henry T.C. Hu of the Securities and Exchange Commission said Frank’s “discussion draft” created too many loopholes and had the potential to exclude all hedge funds and corporate end-users from oversight.

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