Les législateurs américains ont donc mis un point final au projet de refonte de la régulation financière du pays, après avoir trouvé un accord sur de nouvelles limitations de l'activité des banques et proposé un compromis sur la question des produits dérivés.
C'est vers minuit aux États-unis que les négociateurs démocrates sont parvenus à trouver un premier terrain d'entente sur les deux points les plus épineux du projet de loi. Les deux clauses en question ont pour objectif de protéger les actifs des banques des activités risquées de courtier "trading" pour compte propre, à l'origine de la crise financière de 2007-2009 qui a débouché sur une profonde récession et a dû amener l'Etat à voler au secours du secteur bancaire.
Les démocrates étaient sous pression pour achever leurs travaux dans les heures à venir, avant que le président Barack Obama n'entame des discussions avec les dirigeants présents au sommet du G20 à Toronto ce week-end.
Au bout de 15 heures de négociations intenses, les démocrates se sont finalement mis d'accord sur une version modifiée de ce que l'on appelle la "règle Volcker" qui vise à restreindre le trading pour compte propre des banques et interdire ou tout le moins encadrer très strictement leur implication dans les fonds spéculatifs et fonds de capital-investissement.
Cet assouplissement permettrait notamment aux banques d'investir jusqu'à 3% du total de leur capital Tier 1, fonds propres de base, dans les fonds spéculatifs et les fonds de capital-investissement.
Le projet de supervision du marché des dérivés a donné en revanche plus de fil à retordre aux législateurs. Ce marché de 615 000 milliards de dollars a contribué à exacerber la crise et a débouché notamment sur un sauvetage de 182 milliards de dollars de deniers publics pour l'assureur American International Group.
La sénatrice démocrate Blanche Lincoln est parvenue à un compromis avec des représentants du Trésor qui vise à contraindre les banques à scinder leurs opérations de swaps qui leur offrira par ailleurs la possibilité d'opérer sur une plus grande variété de swaps internes.
Après des heures de négociations, d'autres parlementaires démocrates ont fini par rejoindre sa position.
Des dizaines de démocrates de la Chambre des représentants, estimant que cela contribuerait à renforcer les activités offshore, menaçaient de voter contre l'ensemble du projet de loi en cas de maintien de cette proposition.
Mener à bien un tel projet de loi serait pour les démocrates une nouvelle victoire sur le plan législatif, après la réforme de la santé passée cette année, d'autant plus appréciable que les élections de mi-mandat se tiendront en novembre.
Si l'objectif de ce projet de loi, qui compte près de 2 000 pages, est d'éviter une crise mondiale similaire à celle amorcée en 2007, il fera en revanche peser de fortes contraintes sur le secteur bancaire et pourrait le priver de plusieurs milliards de dollars de recettes.
Wall Street a lancé de grandes manoeuvres pour couler le projet, en dépit d'une contestation populaire grandissante fustigeant les faillites bancaires et les bonus des dirigeants. Les démocrates ont dû toutefois refreiner leurs ambitions de refonte radicale afin de ne pas se priver des votes des parlementaires "centristes".
House, Senate leaders finalize details of sweeping financial overhaul
Key House and Senate lawmakers agreed on far-reaching new financial rules early Friday after weeks of division, delay and frantic last-minute deal making. The dawn compromise set up a potential vote in both houses of Congress next week that could send the landmark legislation to President Obama by July 4.
By Brady Dennis
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, June 25, 2010; 8:02 AM
Lawmakers pulled an all-nighter, wrapping up their work at 5:39 a.m. -- more than 20 messy, mind-numbing, exhaustive hours after they began Thursday morning.
"It's a great moment. I'm proud to have been here," said a teary-eyed Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.), who as chairman of the Senate Banking Committee led the effort in the Senate. "No one will know until this is actually in place how it works. But we believe we've done something that has been needed for a long time. It took a crisis to bring us to the point where we could actually get this job done."
Both the House and Senate must approve the compromise legislation before it can go to Obama for his signature.
Despite myriad changes in recent days, Democrats appear poised to deliver a final bill that largely reflects the administration's original blueprint unveiled almost precisely a year ago. While it would not fundamentally alter the shape of Wall Street or break up the nation's largest firms, the legislation would establish broad new oversight of the financial system.
A new consumer protection bureau housed in the Federal Reserve would have independent funding, an independent leader and near-total autonomy to write and enforce rules. The government would have broad new powers to seize and wind down large, failing financial firms and to oversee the $600-trillion derivatives market. In addition, a council of regulators, headed by the Treasury secretary, would monitor the financial landscape for potential systemic risks.
"The finish line is in sight. The bill that has emerged from conference is strong," Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner said in a statement early Friday. "It will offer families the protections they deserve, help safeguard their financial security and give the businesses of American access to the credit they need to expand and innovate."
On the House side, the final tally was 20 to 11 to approve the conference committee's report. On the Senate side, it was 7 to 5. The votes fell along party lines, earning no support from Republicans on the two panels.
"This legislation is a failure on both counts," Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) said in a statement that denounced the compromise as failing to address "shoddy underwriting practices" or problems with the government-sponsored entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. "It will not encourage much-needed stability and confidence in our financial markets. It will not significantly reduce systemic risk in our financial sector."
The final and most arduous compromise began to fall into place just after midnight. Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) agreed to scale back a controversial provision that would have forced the nation's biggest banks to spin off their lucrative derivatives-dealing businesses.
Thursday evening, members of the House-Senate conference committee also reached accord on the "Volcker rule," named after former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker. That measure would bar banks from trading with their own money, a practice known as proprietary trading.
Lincoln's provision had for months remained a particularly thorny issue for Democrats, causing internal divisions that threatened to derail the massive legislation.
While consumer advocates and many liberals supported her provision, it encountered stiff opposition from the Obama administration and some regulators, as well as from an influential bloc of moderate Democrats and House Democrats from New York, where much of the financial derivatives industry is concentrated.
Administration officials and Democratic leaders worked fervently Thursday to bridge the divide between Lincoln and those House Democrats. Top Treasury officials, including Deputy Secretary Neal Wolin and Michael Barr, an assistant secretary, roamed the Dirksen office building alongside White House economic adviser Diana Farrell, conferring with aides and key lawmakers. Gary Gensler, chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, worked the committee room throughout the day.
Lincoln came and went from the hearing room Thursday, meeting with members of the centrist New Democrat Coalition to try to find common ground and huddling with Dodd (D-Conn.); Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee; and other lawmakers.
In the very early morning hours Friday, Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) -- chairman of the House Agriculture Committee and a Lincoln supporter -- introduced a proposal that would compel banks to spin off only their riskiest derivatives trades, including particular forms of credit-default swaps, which are complex financial bets that exacerbated the financial crisis.
At the same time, the proposal would allow banks to hold onto certain derivatives trading related to interest rates, currency rates, gold and silver. They also would be allowed to continue trading in derivatives in order to hedge against their own risks.
Under the compromise, the derivatives operations that firms spin out of their federally-insured banks could still be retained in a separately-capitalized affiliate. In addition, firms would have two years to institute the new rules.
The Senate agreed to the compromise language just after 2:30 a.m.
The cavernous Dirksen 106 conference room remained packed at that hour, but it was a chaotic and cluttered mass of humanity. Lawmakers had stopped trying to conceal their yawns. Aides who had worn down their BlackBerry batteries recharged them for the home stretch. Trash cans spilled over with coffee cups and sandwich wrappers. Empty Fritos bags and plastic Diet Coke bottles littered the room, along with reams of paper -- old amendments, new amendments, handwritten amendments, amendments to amendments.
"So much for the paperless society," Frank quipped at one point.
In reaching a deal on the Volcker rule, negotiators adopted a provision that mirrors language previously offered by Sens. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), which would ban certain forms of proprietary trading and forbid firms from betting against securities they sell to clients. The Merkley-Levin measure never got a vote on the Senate floor.
"One goal of these limits is to reduce participation in high-risk activity that can cause significant losses at institutions which are central to the financial system," Dodd said. "A second goal is to end the use of low-cost funds, to which insured depositories have access, from subsidizing high-risk activity."
Under the agreement, firms would have up to two years to scale back their proprietary trading and investments in hedge funds and private equity funds. Banks also would be barred from betting against their clients on certain investments deals.
Even as they worked to toughen the Volcker language, lawmakers agreed to an exemption at the behest of Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass), one of only four Republicans to vote for an earlier version of the financial regulation bill in the Senate last month.
Brown, whose state is a hub of the asset-management industry, wanted the bill to allow banks to invest at least a small amount of capital in hedge funds and private equity investments. The measure would prohibit a banks from investing more than 3 percent of their capital in private equity or hedge funds. It was one of a number of provisions tailored to hold onto key votes as the bill heads toward final passage.
Lawmakers squared away a handful of other lingering issues late Thursday and early Friday.
They agreed to exempt the nation's 18,000 auto dealers from oversight by a new consumer financial protection watchdog, a striking legislative victory for one of the nation's most influential lobbying groups and a blow to consumer advocates and Democratic leaders who had long opposed such a loophole. "It is time for people like myself to concede that the votes are not there to give the consumer regulator any role in this," Frank said.
Lawmakers also voted to give shareholders more of a say on corporate governance, to place new restrictions on mortgage lending and to levy a risk-based assessment on large financial firms to help pay for the wide-ranging bill, which the Congressional Budget Office has estimated would cost nearly $20 billion over the next decade.
Weary lawmakers wrapped up their work just after sunrise, only hours before Obama was scheduled to head to Toronto for a meeting of global finance ministers and central bankers. Both Dodd and Frank said they hoped the passage of the legislation by their committees will help the United States lead the ongoing global effort to harmonize new financial safeguards.
"We've put in the hands of the president a very powerful set of tools for him to reassert American leadership in the world," Frank said.
One of the last motions Friday was to name the bill after the two chairmen, who had shepherded the legislation through the House and the Senate over the past year. At 5:07 a.m., they agreed unanimously that it would be known as the Dodd-Frank bill, and the sound of applause echoed down the empty hallways. Retour au texte