Former Fed Chairman Volcker criticizes Fed for delaying portion of Volcker Rule

WASHINGTON – Former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker on Friday criticized a decision to delay full implementation of a rule that bears his name and aims to curb banks’ risky investments.

The Fed said Thursday that it would delay until July 2017 the deadline by which U.S. banks will have to sell off potentially volatile holdings in private equity, venture capital and hedge funds.

“It is striking that the world’s leading investment bankers, noted for their cleverness and agility in advising clients on how to restructure companies and even industries, however complicated, apparently can’t manage the orderly reorganization of their own activities in more than five years,” Volcker said in a statement.

Congress passed the Volcker Rule in 2010 as part of the Dodd-Frank Act, a major overhaul of financial regulations. The rule limits banks’ riskiest trading bets that could go implode at taxpayers’ expense. It was risky investments that triggered the 2008 financial crisis that caused the worst disruption of the banking system since the 1930s.

Volcker said he understood that “lobbying is eternal.” He suggested that banks’ real aim might be to delay implementation of Dodd-Frank until they can get it changed. Banks have aggressively lobbied against the Volcker Rule because it restricts some of their most profitable activities.

The Fed said it planned to extend from July 2015 to July 2017 the deadline by which banks will have to sell their stakes in prohibited investments. It had already granted a one-year extension. Banks, who had sought a seven-year extension, have argued that they need more time to unload their holdings.

The delay represents another victory in efforts by Wall Street to curb the impact of the Dodd-Frank law. As part of the recently passed budget deal in Congress, lawmakers approved a change that will curtail a requirement for banks to push certain swaps-trading activities out of federally insured bank holding companies.