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Volcker Rule Will Cost Banks $1 Billion, U.S. Government Says

The Dodd-Frank Act’s ban on proprietary trading and limits on hedge-fund investments, known as the Volcker rule, will cost U.S. national banks about $1 billion for compliance and capital, according to a government estimate.

The rule, proposed by the Federal Reserve, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and two other regulators this month, would result in $917 million in capital costs for the banks, according to the Sept. 7 impact analysis conducted by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

Dodd-Frank, the overhaul of financial regulation enacted by President Barack Obama in July 2010, bans banks from having more than 3 percent of their Tier 1 capital invested in hedge and private equity funds. The law requires banks to deduct their aggregate investments in the funds from their Tier 1 capital.

Under Dodd-Frank, 152 national banks may have a combined maximum investment in funds of $18.3 billion, according to the 14-page OCC analysis. The OCC estimated the cost of capital would be 5 percent, or a maximum overall cost of $917 million.

The OCC analysis also said that 2,096 national banks would have annual legal and compliance costs of about $50 million. Most of those costs would fall on national banks with at least $1 billion in trading accounts or investments in hedge funds and private equity funds. A national bank is a commercial bank with a charter from the OCC. The institutions are part of the Federal Reserve System and belong to the FDIC.

The Volcker rule, a 298-page proposal, named for former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker, shown, was included in the Dodd-Frank overhaul of financial regulation aimed at limiting the kind of risky trading that helped fuel the 2008 credit crisis. Photo: Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg Close

The Volcker rule, a 298-page proposal, named for former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker,... Read More

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The Volcker rule, a 298-page proposal, named for former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker, shown, was included in the Dodd-Frank overhaul of financial regulation aimed at limiting the kind of risky trading that helped fuel the 2008 credit crisis. Photo: Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg

Private Sector Impact

The analysis was produced under a 1995 law requiring some agencies, including the OCC, to produce an impact statement before publishing a rule if it may result in at least $100 million in annual expenditures by the private sector. The OCC estimate said that, for purposes of the 1995 law, the Volcker rule’s impact is $50 million. The capital costs are required by the Dodd-Frank law and are considered separate from the cost of the regulation implementing it, according to the analysis.

Dean DeBuck, an OCC spokesman, declined to comment about the impact analysis.

The 298-page proposal, named for former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker, was included in the Dodd-Frank overhaul of financial regulation aimed at limiting the kind of risky trading that helped fuel the 2008 credit crisis.

Regulators are seeking public comment on the Volcker rule proposal and may make changes before its July 21, 2012 effective date. The Securities and Exchange Commission, Commodity Futures Trading Commission and OCC are also required to draft and oversee the restrictions. The CFTC has yet to propose its version of the Volcker rule.

‘Credit Negative’

Moody’s Investors Services said Oct. 10 that the rule would be a “credit negative” for bondholders of Bank of America Corp. (BAC), Citigroup Inc. (C), Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) and Morgan Stanley (MS), “all of which have substantial market-making operations.”

Banks’ fixed-income desks could see revenue fall as much as 25 percent under measures included in a draft of the proposal, Brad Hintz, a Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. brokerage analyst said in an Oct. 10 note.

The Volcker rule will affect banks’ standalone proprietary trading desks and trading for their own accounts conducted elsewhere in the companies.

Standalone proprietary-trading groups at six bank holding companies -- Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC), Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley -- had a net loss of about $221 million from June 2006 through the end of 2010, according to a July 13 Government Accountability Office report.

‘Small Revenues’

“Compared to these firms’ overall revenues, their standalone proprietary trading generally produced small revenues in most quarters and some larger losses during the financial crisis,” the GAO said.

The OCC wasn’t able to identify the number of banks with an ownership interest in a hedge fund or private equity fund. “Thus, we use banks’ reporting of investments for fiduciary clients as a proxy to estimate the number of banks that may have an ownership interest in a hedge or private equity fund,” the OCC said in the analysis.

In the proposal, regulators asked if the dollar-for-dollar capital deduction is appropriate, or if the impact on Tier 1 capital should be related to the leverage of a hedge fund or private equity fund.

The capital deduction provision would affect 34 national banks with at least $5 billion in trading accounts or covered funds and would cost them $770 million, according to the analysis. Those banks would have a maximum $15.4 billion in combined investment in funds.

The Volcker proposal requires compliance programs at banks that may include quantitative measurements of trading activities. The rule will have an impact on 2,096 U.S. national banks, of which 1,831 will have minimal compliance requirements, according to the analysis.

To contact the reporter on this story: Silla Brush in Washington at sbrush@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Lawrence Roberts at lroberts13@bloomberg.net

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