Los Angeles Times: Financial reform law offers look at lobbyists’ efforts to shape it

Written by admin on November 15th, 2010

The Los Angeles Times reports on the intense lobbying underway to undermine any significant regulation in the financial industry despite the events which lead to the financial crisis of 2008.

Los Angeles Times

Having failed to block financial reform, Wall Street is now focused on the next best thing: ensuring that the law is loosely interpreted and weakly enforced.

Lobbyists for banks, hedge funds and other firms have logged hundreds of meetings with federal regulators since the reform bill was signed into law July 21. The lobbyists are often pushing for exemptions to the bill’s key provisions, including measures that would limit risky Wall Street trading and shield consumers from excessive bank fees, records and interviews show.

In an Aug. 18 meeting with Federal Reserve officials, for instance, Citigroup lobbyists warned that new rules restricting trading by hedge funds “may have a significant impact on the competitiveness of U.S. firms,” according to a summary released by the Fed.

The incessant appeals — there were 18 separate meetings between lobbyists and government officials Sept. 28 alone — have become a sore spot with some regulators.

“I want to be professional and polite and courteous, and I’ll let them say their peace,” said Bart Chilton, a member of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. “But I don’t think it’s a very valuable use of their time or mine, because that is not the direction we were instructed to go by Congress.”

The meetings would normally be cloaked in secrecy. But in keeping with the spirit of financial reform, the Fed, the CFTC and two other agencies have begun disclosing their contacts with lobbyists on the new reform law, providing a rare glimpse behind the curtain.

The names listed most frequently in the logs are Goldman Sachs, with 21 meetings with regulators, and JPMorgan Chase, with 23. Jamie Dimon, chairman and chief executive of JPMorgan, was among those in attendance when a bank contingent met Oct. 8 with Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairwoman Sheila Bair, records show.

In all, regulators have had at least 510 meetings with lobbyists representing 325 organizations since July, according to a Times analysis of meeting logs. That’s when the Fed, the SEC, the FDIC and the CFTC first began keeping the logs on their websites, in the spirit of transparency that was a driving factor for the financial reform law.


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