U.S. House Taps Wall St Bill Conferees

By Kevin Drawbaugh and Andy Sullivan

The U.S. Congress put the last pieces in place on Wednesday to begin hammering out a historic financial regulation overhaul, a day after primary elections vindicated get-tough-on-Wall Street politics. With banks deeply unpopular among voters, and politicians keenly focused on November’s congressional elections, the House of Representatives named its members to a conference committee that will draft the biggest regulatory revamp since the 1930s.  White House economic adviser Paul Volcker voiced optimism that sweeping legislation would be passed “in reasonable form” and provide a basis for global coordination that would prevent banks from shopping for the least strict national rulebook.  The joint U.S. Senate-House of Representatives conference committee will hold its first meeting on Thursday. It must merge competing bills already passed by the two chambers.  Electoral results from Tuesday highlighted the banks’ political challenges as they fight to protect their profits and business models from a government crackdown, analysts said, citing the primary victory of Democratic Senator Blanche Lincoln.  “Each election so far shows that loving Wall Street isn’t conducive to political success, to say the least,” said Karen Shaw-Petrou, managing partner at Federal Financial Analytics, a firm that advises on regulatory policy.  Lincoln is the author of a hard-hitting proposal that would force banks to spin off their lucrative swap-trading desks. That alone does not explain her win in a close-fought Democratic primary, but it played a role, analysts said.

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