Regulators cite progress on global financial rules

Federal regulators said Thursday they are collaborating with other nations on rules intended to prevent another global financial crisis.

The topic was raised at a congressional hearing looking into whether last year's financial overhaul could drive business overseas and hurt the U.S. economy.

House Republicans are trying to weaken or kill the law before regulators finish writing rules opposed by the banking and financial community. Regulators, meanwhile, have said they will miss next month's deadline to complete some of the rules a year after President Barack Obama signed the law.

Federal Reserve Gov. Daniel Tarullo, Treasury Department official Lael Brainard and other regulators told a House panel they have made progress in coming up with new capital requirements for banks together with officials overseas.

On the House floor Thursday, lawmakers voted to adopt legislation that would delay by more than a year new rules for reporting trades in derivatives, the complex financial instruments blamed for helping precipitate the 2008 financial crisis. The amendment to the bill funding the Agriculture Department and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission would require the CFTC to first have other rules in place to help it collect derivatives market data. The bill also would slash by 44 percent the Obama administration's funding request for the CFTC for the budget year starting Oct. 1, to $172 million.

The value of derivatives depends on the future price of some other investment. They have ballooned into a $600 trillion market. Regulators say they pose a threat to the stability of the financial system.

Wall Street executives, appearing later before the House Financial Services Committee, maintained that the stricter financial rules could crimp U.S. firms, hurt the economy and cost jobs.

"The regulatory pendulum clearly has now begun to swing to a point that risks hobbling our financial system and our economic growth," Barry Zubrow, the chief risk officer of JPMorgan Chase & Co., told the panel.

Brainard, the Treasury undersecretary for international affairs, said officials have been working "tirelessly" to create a level playing field of financial regulation across the U.S., Europe, Asia and other business centers.

"There are some who would argue that the United States is moving too fast, that we should wait to see what other countries implement," Brainard testified. "I do not agree. I would argue that by moving first and leading from a position of strength, we are elevating the world's standards to ours."

Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., the committee's chairman, warned that a coming "tsunami" of regulations could "push capital, industry and jobs right out of the country."

Democratic lawmakers defended the overhaul but some voiced concern about specific rules being considered, such as the stricter capital requirements for financial institutions deemed by regulators to pose a potential threat to the system.

John Walsh, the acting comptroller of the currency whose Treasury Department agency oversees national banks, said he was concerned that if the capital requirements were "taken too far, we may limit the availability of credit that is needed for economic growth."

Walsh has disagreed with other federal regulators on how stringent the new capital requirements should be.