Unregulated, shadowy derivatives played a key role in the 2008 financial crash—Warren Buffett called them “financial weapons of mass destruction”—and the Dodd-Frank financial reforms took serious measures to bring them out into the open. Even Matt Taibbi, a noted critic of the overall bill, said the derivative rules were the “biggest win of all.”
Now, Republicans—and some Democrats—on the House Financial Services committee are quietly trying to gut these key reforms. The committee reported out two bills recently that would make derivative transactions largely opaque once again and that would exempt large portions of the financial industry from further regulation.
Representative Barney Frank, the ranking Democrat on Financial Services, released a statement this week sounding the alarm about the two bills, which the House is expected to take up this month when it returns from recess. “Thoroughly hoping to take advantage of the fact that public attention is now focused on the budget and the healthcare bill, House Republicans are moving substantially to weaken the regulation of derivatives,” Frank said. “Democrats will be pushing for… two very important amendments to these bills, and if they are rejected by the majority, we will work hard against both bills and urge the Senate and the President to reject them.”