As we all marinate in the difficulties of Mr. Zuckerberg, who, at the end of the day, can certainly salve any wounds with a net worth measured in the tens of billions of dollars, I was struck by the continued drumbeat for “REGULATION.”  Now, perhaps I am ill equipped to discuss Facebook, not being a participant and therefore never having clicked through a lengthy agreement on privacy (or the lack thereof), but I have some thoughts.  I’ll largely leave the ethics of the privacy contretemps to others, but I was struck by the parallels between the current kerfuffle over Facebook and privacy and the Dodd-Frank mess, lo these ten years past.

Let’s start with this dictum:  Beware the politician bearing new and comprehensive regulatory gifts for the American people.
Continue Reading I Hear This Cries Out for Regulation!

Or maybe not.  At the outset, let’s give credit where credit is due.  It was gratifying to read a governmental missive on the capital markets that made sense, showed an actual grasp of how markets function and an awareness of the issues confronting capital formation.  Best damn thing I ever read coming out of the swamp.

The Treasury Report on the capital markets published in early October is indeed pretty fantastic stuff.  The Report covers the Treasury’s recommendation on re-centering many of the rules around the capital markets over a wide range of regulatory issues important to securitization and capital formation.

Let’s focus on the provisions in this Report that are central to securitization.

These can be summarized as follows:

  • There should be one agency with the responsibility for the Risk Retention Rule and we should dispense with the committee-of-committee that’s been running the clown car for the past couple of years. The old saw that “a camel is a horse built by a committee” is certainly proven by the risk retention experience.
  • Regulatory bank capital requirements treat investment in non-agency securitized instruments punitively.
  • Regulatory liquidity standards unfairly discriminate against securitized products.
  • Sponsor risk retention as set out in the Risk Retention Rule represents an unnecessary cost imposed upon securitization.
  • Some of the new and improved (read: expanded) disclosure requirements under Dodd-Frank are unnecessarily burdensome.

In other words, our regulatory regime needs a certain amount of recalibration to achieve its goals of safety and soundness in the financial market place while not impeding capital formation. 
Continue Reading Treasury Report on the Capital Markets: A New Day

On September 27, 2017, the Federal Reserve, FDIC and OCC released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPR) that they describe as simplifying compliance with certain aspects of the agencies’ risk based capital (RBC) rules to, among other things, replace the standardized approach’s (SA) treatment of HVCRE loans with a simpler treatment for most acquisition, development or construction (ADC) loans called high volatility acquisition, development or construction (HVADC). Spoiler alert: it just replaces vague and confusing rules with a slightly different set of vague and confusing rules.
Continue Reading Yakety Yak – Talk Back: Regulators Respond to HVCRE Complaints

As an industry, we remain in high dudgeon over the inanity of much of Dodd-Frank, the ideological and often unhinged regulatory instincts of our various governments and the vast amount of effort, time and money it takes to comply with the mind-numbing complexity of rules and regulations that seem to be largely untethered from the goal of solving actual problems. We winge. We boviate. We testify, write white papers, fund PACs and pursue “engagements” with the regulatory apparatchiki in the pursuit of sensible relief. But do we still really care?

Are we witnessing a process of reconciliation? Could it be that the capital markets have found a way to thrive inside the current regulatory state’s bear hug?
Continue Reading Welcome to Stockholm! We Are Learning To Love Our Regulatory State

I’d like everyone to go out and buy a copy of Professor Paul Mahoney’s slender new book, Wasting a Crisis – Why Securities Regulation Fails.  Paul is a brilliant guy.  Until this spring, he was the dean of the University of Virginia School of Law where he is the David and Mary Harrison Distinguished Professor of Law and the Arnold H. Leon Professor of Law, teaching securities laws.  This is a great book and an important read.  Paul argues cogently that:
Continue Reading Why Regulation Fails