Konczal: Make Your Voice Heard with a Comments Submission for the Volcker Rule

By Mike Konczal, a Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute who writes at New Deal 2.0.

You may not be a lobbyist, but you can still make a difference in FinReg.

Just a reminder: this Friday, November 5th, 2010, is the last day to submit comments on the Volcker Rule. Here is the website for this, “Public Input for the Study Regarding the Implementation of the Prohibitions on Proprietary Trading and Certain Relationships With Hedge Funds and Private Equity Funds.”

The rule-making and comment period is going to represent the best form of democracy we’ll have in this process. Granted, banks have expensive lawyers on retainer to submit comments for them. But everyone out there, including those in my audience with expertise and the ability to write something like this, can do so. And their comments will at least get a shot at being as influential as a senior lobbyist.

Right now there’s little attention paid to this part of the process. But it is the most important. If siloing out the riskiest parts of the financial sector from the insurance mechanism and the crucial intermediary functions that the financial sector provides is important to you, make the time to write and submit a comment. Here is Simon Johnson discussing this.

At the recent conference held by the Roosevelt Institute, The Future of Financial Reform: Will It Work? How Will We Know?, we included a chapter from Senators Jeff Merkley and Carl Levin, Making the Dodd-Frank Act Restrictions On Proprietary Trading & Conflicts of Interest Work (pdf), which is all about the Volcker Rule and how we can tell if the implementation has been successful.

Here is Ty Gellasch and Andrew Green, from Senator Levin and Merkley’s offices respectively, presenting this chapter at the conference:

Will It Work? How Will We Know?: Ty Gellasch from Roosevelt Institute on Vimeo.

I encourage you to check it out to remind yourself that the stakes are very high. You may not have a lobbying staff, you may not get your calls returned from Senators within minutes, you may not be running attack ads through slush funds connecting a dozen front groups. But you can have your voice heard right here in this comment period.

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  1. F. Beard

    I won’t. I’m not interested in enabling our corrupt (and now desperate to save itself?) money and banking system live to loot another day even if it is 60 years from now.

    Mervin King of the BOE is apparently wising up to the whole corrupt business of fractional reserve banking. Good for him. We should not settle for less than fundamental reform, not some hobble or two on the government backed thieves.

  2. Richard Field

    I do not want to discourage anyone from submitting a response as this is a very, very important issue.

    However, my experience with submitting public comments to both the SEC and FDIC on structured finance disclosure requirements indicates either a) the degree to which regulatory capture exists or b) the degree to which regulators discount the comments from an individual or organization they do not know.

    Briefly, in conversations with senior regulators at these organizations weeks after the submitting a comment, they agreed that ‘when’ is critical if structured finance disclosure is going to be effective and asked why I had not submitted a public comment. When I informed them that I had, they asked that I email a copy of the comment directly to them and apologized that the comment had not received the attention it merited.

    Were it not for the follow-up meetings, the comments would have been effectively buried.

  3. Brent Eubanks

    Note that the comments require “All submissions must refer to the document title and one of the above docket numbers.”

    However, it’s not clear what the docket number actually is. Is it the document number? The document citation? The number of the question to which you’re responding?

    Going further, this is clearly an attempt to get substantive, detailed technical comments, not just a general “I think this is a good idea”. I’m not a finance guy — I’m an engineer. I know enough to see that the emperor has no clothes, and that the Volker rule might help keep the poor old man decent. But I do not have the expertise or knowledge to comment on the specific details of implementation. A little guidance, or even a sample letter, or a list of talking points would be most helpful.

    I suspect that there are many people in the same boat — we want to speak out, but we don’t know what to say (other than “ARGH!”) or how to say it so that we’re heard. If the public comment process is going to be effective at all in the face of financial industry lobbying, it needs to engage the non-financially-savvy public. A little hand-holding would go a long way in that respect.

  4. Ina Deaver

    The regulatory comment process is always critical to the overall work of implementing any legislation. You have to know, however, that the initial draft has a momentum that really is difficult to overcome. The people who have a (moneyed) interest in the process will have started at the initial drafting phase of the process.

    “Substantive/substantial” comments have to be addressed, however, so it is not a meaningless exercise to send in anything that is well-reasoned and substantive. At the very least, they will have to come up with a reason why they didn’t seriously consider it.

  5. mikefromArlington

    I’ve been told from this site and others FinReg was a complete failure and Obama is a sellout to the Banks.

    I’m no longer supporting any of it and want it all overturned and suggest everyone do the same.

    Stay home this election. Let Republicans take over and maybe they can throw this corrupt President out of office then take the VP out too, that way Boehner will take over.

    Because, according to this site, Dems and Reps are all the same, right?


    1. Neil D

      That is the message I get every day reading this site and others. Team Obama is a disgrace. We should have long ago dismantled all the TBTF banks, modified many or all outstanding mortgages, disbanded the federal reserve, and otherwise required President Obama to orchestrate a complete reordering of our economy. All while keeping Beck, Palin, Breitbart, and the right wing noise machine under his heel. If only…

      Surely the GOP will be tougher on the banks. RIGHT? Wrong.

      The coup is complete now.

      1. F. Beard

        The coup is complete now. Neil D

        You assume competence when in fact there may be none. Some of the PTB may have completely sealed their fate ala France 1789. In that case they have executed a “coup” on themselves.

        1. Jason Rines

          That may just be correct, time will tell. Certainly a non-violent solution would be best.

          The last time piracy and blackmail at this level on the American people was addressed, the response by Thomas Jefferson was hiring mercenaries to dispatch them.

          The version of this story told to kids in history classes, 50 valiant Marines and all that is quite different than the reality as it is only a fraction of the truth.

          The danger to the American people is that the PTB know this and have larger plans to silence the rape victim.

  6. F. Beard

    Because, according to this site, Dems and Reps are all the same, right? mikefromArlington

    Actually, the Republicans are worse and I used to be one. The Demos are dumb but generally have decent hearts; the Republicans actually think cruelty is a form of kindness in the long run.

    So instead of Keynesian “stimulus” nonsense we will get Austrian austerity nonsense and maybe another useless war.

    Still, Obama and the Demos need to be punished for not taking on the bankers. Let the Repugnicans prove they are clueless and spineless too.

    Too bad Obama, you could have been great.

  7. Feeding the Troll

    Lawyers themselves, rather, the legal profession – is problematic in itself. First off, legal expertise and more importantly information, is very expensive, thus out of reach for most. A good example is the borrower being ejected from his home. Even if they know that fraudulent affadavits are being submitted in court to take their homes, they will need upwards of 30K to seriously consider suing the Banks. Thus, the very access to due process in this fucked country requires an enourmous outlay from the get go. Now the premise of this blog entry is that we should submit comments about the Volker Rule. The moneyed lawyers and lobbyists have the access, the information and they will run circles around consumer interests. It’s important to look back — How in the hell did we arrive at this point to begin with? It was the result of millions invested in lobbying and years and years of attacking regulations that brought about the “Rubin victory” during the Clinton years, destroying Glass Steagal. If this were 1997, we would not even have this blog, Greenspan was God after all. But there were voices raised in protest back then, and they were silenced and ignored. If we’re going to talk political party, keep in mind cramdown was defeated by those in the “majority” in 2009, as was TBTF this year. The fact that most of the media still pushes the idea that the world-would-have-exploded if TARP hadn’t been yanked from the taxpayers, is evidence of astounding propaganda. The fact that we’re still debating TBTF is obscene.

  8. Criminal Investors

    We need accountability, investors should suffer equally, not borrowers. Borrowers who are facing abridgment of their “human rights” should be able to “hunt down” their profit seeking investors, sue them, or work with them. If mortgage lending dries up in a state, fine! Look at the disaster you guys helped create, now housing will finally be affordable for everyone, and housing won’t be some fucking poker chip.

    The fact that the parastical investors have been largely protected when millions are faced with losing their homes should give any rational individual pause, and consider what class war really means.

  9. No Ones Anonymous

    I wonder about Yves’s blog. One great “trapping” device by entities that look for class action uprisings is to create a fraud of a website, one that appears to be on the side of the “lil’ guy” but is simply a datamine conduit that is monitored, consumed and is no less than a corporate front for the very entities that need street level information to continue their profitable frauds, ruses and protection. Management consultants are notorious sheckle hustlers, and the ads on this site are revealing. Just sayin!

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I’m deeply offended. Do you have the foggiest idea how much of my time and effort this blog takes and has taken? I suggest you go back to the content, particularly the pre crisis and crisis coverage of 2007 and 2008, and tell me how this can possibly fit into your conspiratorial thinking. And you clearly don’t know much about management consulting. If you had looked at my website, you’d see my work has been entirely strategy and deal work, and has never gotten into the sort of territory you accuse management consultants of providing.

      And your other charges are paranoid and off base. People who do real data mining don’t set up sham websites; clients want to work with data of their own customers, and even then, it’s hugely difficult to scrub their data to reach conclusions. A mere visit to a single site doesn’t provide useful information. And if the evil powers that you see lurking behind dark corners were behind this site, the last thing they’d do is announce their presence and orientation via ads.

      Seriously, your argument fails to pass muster on any level. So what scam are you running that you decide to attack this blog, and on a post on finreg, I might add?

      1. Enkco

        Yves, you’re probably right to take this at face value and head-on. You should (and do) maintain a polite if firmly rational attitude nearly always, as far as I can tell. This is professional and a good thing.

        But don’t be fooled – the poster is quite likely a sophisticated disinfo-style troll. A favorite tactic for disruption of activist communities is to sow distrust and suspicion between actors. When you can’t trust anyone, the movement loses power and collapses into bickering and paranoia of the type s/he is attempting to promote.

        Don’t let this get you down. Your trolls are often highly sophisticated and quite skillful, as I believe you’ve noticed. Take it as a form of flattery that you rate the well-paid opponents – you’re in the big leagues, clearly.

      2. Dan


        That bizarre accusation did not even deserve a response. You, your blog, and your book are all national treasures. There will always be haters and shills. Don’t let them phase you

      3. Jason Rines

        Yves, I wouldn’t spend one milisecond providing a a defensible position for these kinds of comments. It is A) either a troll looking to discredit you and you should let your audience rip them to shreds or B) Someone that is so entrenched in fear but too lazy to actually read your work that they are a complete waste of time.

    2. F. Beard

      Yea, there has to be a limit to paranoia. Surely Yves spends far too much energy and time on this site to not be on the up and up.

      And it is a two way street here too. If the ideas I post here (for free, that is at no charge to me) are not deeply subversive of the current system then may the Lord forgive and correct me.

      Thanks Yves,

      We love and respect you.

      1. Skippy

        yep here we go “LOOK A PEDIPHILE” routine…

        Go back and research this site from inception to included comments then report back with your conclusions cough supported by actual data.

  10. Richard

    Re: “I wonder about Yves blog…” There is a lot of nuttiness here. But the blog is genuine, informative and, all and all, well worth the daily read I give it.


  11. F. Beard

    There is a lot of nuttiness here. Richard

    I may resemble that remark (in your mind); however I notice the so-called sane people still can’t figure out how to implement money honestly and stably. So yeah, I agree, there is a lot of nuttiness on this and virtually every other site.

  12. chicbee

    Yves, Please don’t be disheartened by senseless negative junk.

    I value the service you provide and brilliant analysis, as evidenced by your fine book Econned that I am still studying!!

    I do have a request/suggestion. Excuse me, I don’t know how to cite previous posts correctly…

    Brent Eubanks says:” A little guidance, or even a sample letter, or a list of talking points would be most helpful.”

    I agree, without a list of talking points, it’s daunting. Can someone provide that?


Comments are closed.