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21 11, 2022

M112122

2022-11-21T16:48:57-05:00November 21st, 2022|6- Client Memo|

What Will Be Done, Not Just Said, To Fix FTX

The only question left unanswered about FTX is whether it was a purposeful scam as more than a few clients conclude or a case of implacable forces ending the era of easy money that just got the better of another wunderkind whose awesome skills turned out to be largely confined to costumery conveying inspired innovation to all too many vulnerable investors and gullible politicians.  No matter which it is or even – as I think – if it’s a bit of both, FTX is a debacle that will change U.S. financial policy for the better unless FTX drives still more crypto chaos that then spills over to core financial infrastructure and intermediation.

m112122.pdf

21 11, 2022

Karen Petrou: What Will Be Done, Not Just Said, To Fix FTX

2022-11-22T13:18:11-05:00November 21st, 2022|The Vault|

The only question left unanswered about FTX is whether it was a purposeful scam as more than a few clients conclude or a case of implacable forces ending the era of easy money that just got the better of another wunderkind whose awesome skills turned out to be largely confined to costumery conveying inspired innovation to all too many vulnerable investors and gullible politicians. No matter which it is or even – as I think – if it’s a bit of both, FTX is a debacle that will change U.S. financial policy for the better unless FTX drives still more crypto chaos that then spills over to core financial infrastructure and intermediation. I’ve gotten a lot of questions about crypto policy after my brief discussion in last week’s talk on the midterm’s policy impact. Here, more on both the legislative outlook and what regulators may finally bring themselves to do even if Congress can’t get itself together any better next year than in so many before it.

First more on why stablecoins are the cryptoasset most likely to come under a new federal gun. This isn’t because they deserve it more than any other cryptoasset – although they might – but because policy thinking about what to do with stablecoins is most advanced and, thus, bipartisan negotiations in the House are closest to the finish line.

That said, even stablecoin standards aren’t going to be easy. The clearest articulation of how new law might work is S. 4356, the Lummis-Gillibrand …

17 11, 2022

DAILY111722

2022-11-17T17:18:13-05:00November 17th, 2022|2- Daily Briefing|

Warren, Durbin Demand Answers about FTX Collapse

Following FTX’s collapse, Majority Whip Durbin (D-IL) and Sen. Warren (D-MA) sent a letter today to FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried demanding a detailed accounting of the company’s decisions and business practices.  We doubt they will get an answer anytime soon, with this letter joining a flood of Congressional inquiries and likely hearings (see Client Report REFORM215).

Jefferson Supports Limited Fed Mandate

In remarks today, FRB Gov. Phillip Jefferson disputes those – including many progressive Democrats – who believe that racial equity and economic equality are an intrinsic part of the Fed’s mission.  Specifically, he states that, while consumer protection, community development, and financial stability can promote inclusive growth, monetary policy cannot directly address it or why low-income households are more acutely affected by inflation.

Fed CBDC Survey Suggests Possible CBDC Upside

A new Fed literature review evaluating the macroeconomic implications of CBDC focuses on the financial inclusion and payment system impacts CBDC would have in the U.S. and advanced economies.  As is usually the case with surveys, it reaches cautious conclusions, including that CBDC could increase financial inclusion for the unbanked.  It might also reduce financial frictions in deposit markets, enhance retail payment-system efficiency, facilitate international transactions, and spur private-sector banking and payments innovation.

Daily111722.pdf

16 11, 2022

DAILY111622

2022-11-16T17:14:29-05:00November 16th, 2022|2- Daily Briefing|

Treasury Calls for Tough Fintech and Bank-Partnership Protection, Prudential Standards

Treasury has completed a long-pending study of the extent to which nonbank fintechs compete with banks and how this affects financial stability and consumer protection.  We will shortly provide clients with an in-depth analysis of this report, for which Karen Petrou was extensively interviewed as now noted publicly in the appendix.  The report was ordered by the Secretary in compliance with President Biden’s competition order (see Client Report MERGER6), finding that nonbank fintechs directly compete with banks and thus may reduce current concentration levels, sure to influence the inter-agency bank-merger policy that remains to be finalized.

Williams Presses for NBFI Standards

In remarks today, FRB-NY President John Williams said that the central bank should not adjust monetary policy to address the price-stability challenges of volatile Treasury markets and that financial-stability questions have generally been well-addressed as evident in the sound U.S. banking system.  Noting recent findings in the latest staff report (see Client Report TMARKET3), Mr. Williams also called for structural changes to NBFIs along lines also laid out by the FSB (see Client Report NBFI2), arguing that MMFs and other NBFIs must be a market source of strength, not of vulnerability requiring rescue beyond the Fed’s new standing facility.

G20 Blesses FSB, Basel Work Plans

In addition to top-priority concerns such as Ukraine, the G-20 Leader’s Declaration today tackled the usual financial-policy agenda, supporting the FSB’s recent NBFI report (see Client

16 11, 2022

REFORM215

2022-11-22T15:02:46-05:00November 16th, 2022|5- Client Report|

HFSC Session Brings Crypto Action to Fore, “Holistic” Capital Under Scrutiny

HFSC today largely focused bank regulators on the same range of questions posed at yesterday’s Senate Banking session (see Client Report REFORM214).  However, Chairwoman Waters (D-CA) emphasized the importance of federal legislation in sharp contrast to Chairman Brown (D-OH), also announcing a hearing in December on FTX.  Ranking Member McHenry (R-NC), who will become HFSC chairman in the next Congress, concurred with the chairwoman’s views on the need for digital-finance statutory reform.  However, he took strong issue with inter-agency policy with regard to new capital rules, merger restrictions, and third-party relationship constraints.  Republican members also targeted Vice Chairman Barr’s holistic capital review, arguing that banks are currently well capitalized and that additional standards would hamper lending.  Mr. Barr indicated that an SLR rewrite is part of the holistic review but not immediately necessary to quell Treasury-market volatility or illiquidity.  As discussed in more detail below, regulators promised banking-sector crypto rules at least as stringent as Basel’s proposal.

REFORM215.pdf

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15 11, 2022

REFORM214

2022-11-22T15:27:38-05:00November 15th, 2022|5- Client Report|

Crypto, Deposit Rates, Capital Top Senate Discussion

At today’s Senate Banking oversight hearing with the banking agencies, Chairman Brown (D-OH) generally applauded the work of regulators, emphasizing the need for tough standards, like-kind rules for bigtech companies, and an inquiry into why depositor interest rates lag Fed rate hikes along lines posed earlier by Sen. Reed (D-RI).  FDIC Acting Chairman Gruenberg concurred, criticizing banks for sluggish rates.  Ranking Member Toomey (R-PA) reiterated his longstanding complaints about regulators straying outside their mission in areas such as climate change.  He also called for SLR relief to reduce Treasury-market risk and opposed pending large-bank resolution guidance (see FSM Report LIVINGWILL19) on grounds that it is unnecessary.

REFORM214.pdf

14 11, 2022

DAILY111422

2022-11-14T17:00:05-05:00November 14th, 2022|2- Daily Briefing|

FSB Thinks 2020 Reg Relief Could Go, Stay – It All Depends

In conjunction with the G20 summit, the FSB has released a policy paper assessing the extent to which various pandemic-related regulatory forbearances should be continued.

FSB Reiterates Climate, Crypto, NBFI Plans

The FSB head’s letter to the G20 today reiterates all of the priorities expressed in its October letter to G20 finance ministers.

Regulatory Hearings to Address Last-Gasp 2022 Agenda, Position Panels for a Busy New Year

With GOP House and Democratic Senate control largely assured, this week’s hearings with Messrs. Barr, Gruenberg, Harper, and Hsu will illuminate not only current priorities – most notably what’s next for federal crypto law and rule – but also the very different priorities HFSC and Senate Banking will advance in the next Congress.

FRB-NY Staff: Big U.S. Banks Remain Extremely Resilient

In its latest assessment of the vulnerability of the fifty largest U.S. BHCs, Federal Reserve Bank of New York staff confirmed the overall rosy assessment of bank resilience in the Board’s latest financial-stability report (see Client Report SYSTEMIC94).

OCC Ramps Up Fair-Lending Enforcement

In remarks delivered for Acting Comptroller Hsu, Senior Deputy Comptroller for Bank Supervision Policy Grovetta Gardineer reiterated that ensuring fairness is a top OCC priority.

Gruenberg Finally Gets the Nod

Knowing now that he has secured Democratic Senate control into next year, President Biden today finally and formally nominated Acting FDIC Chairman Gruenberg to assume the chairmanship.

Daily111422.pdf

10 11, 2022

DAILY111022

2022-11-10T17:35:13-05:00November 10th, 2022|2- Daily Briefing|

Inter-Agency Treasury-Market Rewrite Progresses

Treasury’s Inter-Agency Working Group on Treasury Market Surveillance (IAWG) today released a progress report on its efforts to guide action to stabilize the Treasury marketplace.

Fed Reg Report Highlights Future Priorities

The Fed today released its semiannual Supervision and Regulation Report, reiterating that banks entered 2022 in historically sound financial shape and outlined its priorities based on the potential risks of changing market conditions.

FSB NBFI Report Highlights Liquidity, Systemic Risk

The FSB today released a progress report on improving the resilience of non-bank financial intermediation (NBFI), recommending a number of enhancements to the current policy toolkit to better mitigate liquidity and financial stability risk.

CFPB Spotlights Cryptoasset Complaints

The CFPB today published a bulletin analyzing cryptoasset complaints the Bureau has received since 2018, observing a large spike in these complaints over the past two years and concluding that fraud, theft, hacks, and scams are widespread problems affecting participants in crypto markets.

CFPB Continues Furnisher Accountability Campaign

The CFPB today continued its campaign for furnisher accountability by issuing a circular upholding the Bureau’s belief that consumer credit reporting agencies and furnishers must conduct a reasonable investigation of non-frivolous consumer disputes and that failure to do so may subject them to CFPB enforcement under the FCRA.

CFPB Modifies Nonbank Financial-Company Standards

The CFPB today acted again by fiat to amend what it calls its procedural rule (see FSM Report CONSUMER41) revising its “dormant” authority and, as we noted in our analysis, creating a sweeping …

26 10, 2022

DAILY102622

2022-10-26T17:02:07-04:00October 26th, 2022|2- Daily Briefing|

BIS Announces Successful Multi-CBDC Platform Pilot

Following their retail crypto pilot last week, the BIS announced a successful pilot blockchain ledger – dubbed the mBridge Ledger – connecting twenty commercial banks in China, Hong Kong, Thailand, and the UAE via a multi-CBDC common platform.  Both domestic and foreign commercial banks are permitted to directly hold and transact in CBDCs on the platform to ensure seamless cross-border payments.  To protect monetary sovereignty, the platform allows governments to flexibly control CBDC issuance and redemption, transaction currencies and amounts, and visibility into usage.

With President at His Side, Chopra Sanctions Overdraft, Deposit Fees

President Biden today took aim at junk fees, slamming them in general even as he praised the CFPB’s initiative today sharply to limit “surprise” overdraft and deposit fees.  The agency did so by issuing a circular on unanticipated overdraft fee assessment practices and a bulletin on Returned Deposited Item Fee Assessment Practices, again using its non-regulatory tools to enact new policy and set stringent enforcement standards.  We will shortly provide clients with in-depth analyses of each release.

Daily102622.pdf

20 10, 2022

DAILY102022

2022-10-20T17:36:06-04:00October 20th, 2022|2- Daily Briefing|

Fed Staff Study: Climate Risk-Based Capital Impossible for Foreseeable Future

FRB staff released a stylized study of one critical climate-risk policy question:  the extent to which banks should hold capital against it.  Members of Congress have suggested this over recent years (see FSM Report GREEN9) and the BIS at the outset of its thinking recommended both “brown-penalty” and “green-incentive” capital charges (see Client Report GREEN).

FSB Presses for MMF, Open-End Rules; Government-Bond CCPs

Continuing its NBFI focus (see Client Report NBFI), the FSB today issued new recommendations to address government-security market illiquidity.

Gruenberg Gives No Clue as to Timing, Content of Inter-Agency Crypto Guidance

In remarks today, Acting Chairman Gruenberg reiterated the risks laid out in the FSOC digital asset report (see Client Report CRYPTO33), repeated warnings against misrepresenting FDIC deposit insurance, and announced forthcoming interagency crypto guidance without providing any details or timeline.

Bipartisan Senators Press Secondary Sanctions for Enactment

Sens. Toomey (R-PA) and Van Hollen (D-MD) released a readout of a conversation with the Ukrainian Ambassador on the upcoming G7 Russian oil price cap, positioning their oil sanctions amendment for inclusion in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in light of the Ambassador’s support for it.

Warren Calls for Stronger, More Transparent CFPB Remittance Rule

Joined by four Senate Democrats, Sen. Warren (D-MA) today sent a letter to CFPB Director Chopra asking that the agency strengthen its remittance rule to ensure greater transparency for exchange rates and fees it …

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