Federal Reserve Delays Enforcement of Volcker Rule

The Federal Reserve and other banking regulators have granted banks a two-year grace period to come into compliance with the Volcker Rule. That's one of the provisions of the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul bill passed nearly two years ago. It restricts U.S. banks from making trades that put the bank and depositor funds at risk. But regulators are struggling to iron out the details of those rules.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Some other news. The Federal Reserve and other banking regulators have granted banks a two-year grace period to come into compliance with the Volcker Rule. That's one of the provisions of the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill passed a couple of years ago. It restricts American banks from making trades that put the bank and depositor funds at risk.

But as NPR's Yuki Noguchi reports, regulators are struggling to iron out the details.

YUKI NOGUCHI, BYLINE: The principle of the Volcker Rule - named after former chairman of the Federal Reserve, Paul Volcker - is to restrict a bank from taking too many risks with its own proprietary trading. But as a practical matter, defining what is risky is fraught with more questions. How risky, exactly is too risky? Would, for example, investments in government bonds - once considered very safe, now be considered risky?

Nancy Bush is contributing editor to trade publication SNL Financial.

NANCY BUSH: It's a nightmare. To me, it just illustrates the degree of complexity and the degree to which quote, "safe" activities and quote, "non-safe" activities in the banking industry are so difficult to differentiate.

NOGUCHI: The Volcker Rule and other provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act were to go into effect this July. But, of course, you can't enforce rules unless you have them. The Fed and other regulators therefore said it would delay enforcement of its to-be-announced rules until July 21st, 2014.

Yuki Noguchi, NPR News, Washington.

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