Finance

Finance Reform: Three Amendments To Watch

The Senate is busy hashing out amendments to the finance reform bill. Here are three to keep an eye on.

1. Audit the Fed

Introduced by: Bernie Sanders, Independent

What it would do: Give the GAO new powers to audit how the Fed conducts monetary policy.

Argument in favor: "The American people overwhelmingly believe there should be transparency at the Fed," Sanders told the WSJ. "The idea that trillions of dollars of their money was lent out and we don't know who received that money—nobody that I know of thinks that that makes any sense at all."

Argument against: In this letter, Ben Bernanke argues that the amendment would "seriously threaten monetary policy independence, increase inflation fears and market interest rates, and damage economic stability and job creation."

Read more: Full text of the amendment.

2. Force big banks to shrink.

Introduced by: Ted Kaufman and Sherrod Brown, Democrats

What it would do: Limit the amount of money banks could borrow and restrict any bank's share of the nation's total insured deposits. (This post from Rortybomb shows how much the big banks would have to shrink.)

Argument in favor: "If we're going to prevent big banks from putting our entire economy at risk, we need to place sensible size limits on our nation's behemoth banks," Kaufman wrote.

Argument against: "The reason that our large financial institutions are the size that they are is because we have companies in this country that need large institutions in order to be competitive," Sen. Bob Corker told Bloomberg.

Read more: Full text of the amendment.

3. Put the Consumer Protection Agency inside FDIC.

Introduced by: Richard Shelby, Republican

What it would do: Among other things, the amendment would require that the consumer protection agency's rules be approved by the board of the FDIC.

Argument in favor: The FDIC is supposed to make sure that banks are sound. Proponents argue that giving the FDIC oversight over the consumer protection agency would ensure that the agency's rules don't threaten the soundness of banks. Shelby said in a statement that the amendment "solves problems without massive government intrusion into the private sector."

Argument against: In a statement today, President Obama said the amendment would "significantly weaken consumer protection oversight, includes dangerous carve outs for payday lenders, debt collectors, and other financial services operations ... "

Read more: Full text of the amendment.

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