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SEC’s Stein Says Herculean Work to Yield Imperfect Volcker Rule

The multi-agency effort to craft a Volcker rule ban on banks’ proprietary trading is a “Herculean task” that regulators will complete with imperfections, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission member Kara Stein said today.

The version of the Dodd-Frank Act measure being crafted among five regulators isn’t strong enough, Stein said in a speech at an American Bar Association conference in Washington. Stein, who joined the SEC in August after working as a Senate aide, stopped short of saying she’d vote against the rule.

The latest version “is not the rule I would have written,” she said. “My hope is when it comes time to vote on it, that the rule will be strong enough and faithful enough to Congress’ direction that I will be able to support it.”

Stein has pushed for tightening an exemption that would let banks classify some trading as permitted hedging activity, according to three people familiar with the negotiations.

The SEC, Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Federal Reserve, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency are seeking to hold separate votes before the end of the year on the rule named for former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker, who championed it as a way to limit risk-taking by banks that benefit from federal deposit insurance and discount borrowing.

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