Goldman Sachs ‘in bid to change’ Volcker rule
Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS – news) is seeking changes to the Volcker rule, which keeps banks from speculative trades in their own accounts, to protect its merchant-banking unit, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The rule, named after former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker, was part of the sweeping reforms introduced in the wake of the 2008 recession and aimed at preventing another meltdown of the financial sector.
It forbids banks from actively trading in their own accounts to boost profits, what is known as proprietary trade.
Goldman is lobbying US regulators to allow its merchant-banking unit’s credit funds, which mostly concern pension funds and insurers, to be exempted from the rule, the Journal said, citing people briefed on the matter.
In meetings with and letters to regulators, the firm has argued that the credit funds function like banks, though with a different structure, according to the report.
Goldman also claims the funds help the struggling US economy by making more credit available, and says the credit funds present less risk than other investments affected by Volcker limits.
Regulators have yet to respond definitively to Goldman’s requests, according to the Journal.
The newspaper noted that the credit funds are a significant part of Goldman’s business. Its (Euronext: ALITS.NX – news) two main credit funds are GS Loan Partners, with $10.5 billion in investments, and GS Mezzanine Partners, at $13 billion.
Since Congress passed the Dodd-Frank package of financial regulation in July 2010, the financial industry has spent more than $330 million on lobbying to affect how the Volcker rule is applied, the newspaper said.
It cited the lobbying as a reason why regulators have yet to bring forward a final version of the Volcker rule, now set to be issued by year’s end, with financial firms given until July 2014 to comply.