Federal Response to the Collapse of Silicon Valley
The collapse of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB), the 16th-largest bank in the United States, in early March of this year is considered the biggest bank failure since the fall of Washington Mutual during the 2008 global financial crisis. After 40 years of success, the bank collapsed swiftly and unexpectedly. The collapse has ricocheted through the industry, provoking bank closures, rattling the global markets, and threatening the livelihood of startups. The Federal government has not only intervened and taken over the bank, but prosecutors and regulators from the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) have initiated preliminary investigations. Inevitably the collapse will cause regulators to revise the current banking rules and pursue stricter regulation in order to prevent the demise of other banks and a financial crisis.
Agencies Approve Notice of Proposed Changes to Volcker Rule
At the end of January, the Federal Reserve Board, the Comptroller of the Currency, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, and the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (the “Agencies”) approved a notice of proposed rulemaking (“Proposed Rule”) to amend the “covered fund” provisions of section 13 of the Bank Holding Company Act, also known as the “Volcker Rule” (the “Rule”). The Volcker Rule is a regulation that generally prohibits banks from certain investment activities with their own accounts and limits their dealings with private equity and hedge funds, also known as “covered funds.”
New Senate Dealings Prepare to Ease Banking Regulations Under the Dodd-Frank Act
New discussions in the U.S. Senate indicate a likely repeal of 2010’s controversial Dodd-Frank Act. Designed in response to the 2008 economic crisis, the Dodd-Frank Act implemented regulations on banks and lending agencies to provide greater financial stability and consumer protection. The fundamental purpose of Dodd-Frank was to increase oversight and transparency among financial institutions. However, the Dodd-Frank Act has been the target of much criticism, most notably that its imposed regulations stifle the growth of smaller institutions. As of March 2018, Senate discussions indicate an intent to lay the foundations to remove this regulation.
Cannabusiness – Banking in California
In November of 2016 voters in California passed the Adult Use of Marijuana Act which legalized the sale and use of marijuana throughout the state, similarly to states such as Colorado and Washington. Starting January 1, 2018, it will be legal to go to a licensed dispensary and purchase marijuana for personal use, without needing a medical marijuana card. However, marijuana possession or use is still a federal offense; navigating the new law can be hazy.
Implementation of Swap Trade Regulation Aimed at Reducing Investment Risk for American Financial Firms
In September 2017, United States economic markets implemented swap-regulating rules to reduce risk to U.S. investment firms. Signed into law in 2016, this regulation curbs the risk associated with swap derivatives in the United States. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Financial Conduct Authority, and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (the “Agencies”), constructed a joint rule requiring taxpayer-insured banks and financial institutions to collect greater collateral and provide greater transparency when involved in swap derivative agreements.