Congress seems intent on breaking up the big banks. The House and Senate members stitching together a final bank reform law seem to agree on "a tougher Volcker Rule" that would ban banks from buying and selling securities with their own money (ex-Fed chair Paul Volcker calls it a conflict of interest), and "keeping section 716 of the derivatives bill" which would force Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and other big banks "to spin off (their) swaps desk," writes analyst Paul J. Miller Jr. (a former Philadelphia Federal Reserve bank examiner) and his team at FBR Capital Markets.
Though, in a sign of compromise, banks would likely be able to keep those businesses if they raise enough capital so the governmentn won't be asked to bail them out, Miller adds.
The House group is cutting banks some breaks. It appears to have thrown out Sen. Al Franken D.-Minn.'s lottery system for assigning credit rating agencies (which was supposed to make it harder for banks and other credit issuers to buy inflated reviews from Moody's and Standard & Poor's).
Democrats are also making the emergency increase in FDIC insurance, up to $250,000 per account, permanent. And they're also watering down efforts to limit debit card fees.
House banking committee boss Barney Frank, D-Mass., is pushing tighter Securities and Exchagne Commission regulation of private-equity managers, though small firms would be exempted, notes Blank Rome's government-relations team in its Financial Reform Watch newsletter.