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American Monetary Institute 2009 Conference: “We Shall Prevail”
by Richard C. Cook
The world’s most important gathering of monetary reformers takes place each year in Chicago at the American Monetary Institute’s annual conference. This year’s event takes place September 24-27 at Roosevelt University. Chairing the conference is Stephen Zarlenga, AMI director and author of the landmark book “The Lost Science of Money.” For information and the list of speakers, including monetary economist Michael Hudson, see the AMI website. While personal matters will prevent me from appearing on-site, I have sent the following remarks. Segments of my six-part DVD, “Credit as a Public Utility,” will also be shown.
It is not difficult to come up with methods to solve today’s economic crisis through monetary reform. Many of us are doing it. The key, as I have been writing for the past several years, is to treat credit as a public utility, not the private property of the world’s financial elite.
If we truly adhered to this concept, we would be able to see that a debt-based monetary system, where money only comes into existence through bank lending, can succeed only in isolated circumstances when a growth bubble outpaces the ability of the public to pay interest charges for the privilege of having money to spend and thereby to survive.
The 20 financial firms that have received the most bailout money from the government have, in the three years through 2008, awarded their top five executives pay packages worth a combined $3.2 billion, according to a study released Wednesday by the Institute for Policy Studies, a liberal think tank.
The report, titled “America’s Bailout Barons,” found CEOs at those financial institutions that received a government handout received compensation averaging $13.8 million – 37 percent higher than the $10.1 million average for executives at Standard & Poor’s 500 companies last year.
The report suggests the increase in wages comes on the backs of workers. It found that the top 20 recipients of bailout aid have laid off more than 160,000 employees combined since Jan. 1, 2008. The $3.2 billion payout that has gone to the top five executives of these 20 companies over the past three years would bankroll 66 weeks of unemployment insurance benefits for 160,000 workers, based on the average unemployment benefit payment of $299.49 a week, according to the study.
“Unfortunately, despite this new and broad consensus over the dangers inherent in excessive executive remuneration, the denizens of our nation’s executive suites still go about their business with the same visions of compensation sugarplums that danced in their heads before last September,” the report’s authors note....Click here to read the full report. Read more.
CEO's Earning 300 Times More Than the Average Worker
By Dan Arnall | ABC Newser
The overall CEO-to-worker pay gap is exceptionally high; S&P 500 CEOs in 2008 earned 319 times more than the average worker.
The liberal think tank Institute for Policy Studies is out with a report on excessive executive pay in the biggest 20 TARP banks. The findings show that the top five executives at each of these big financial firms earned an average of $32 million each during the 2005 -- 2008 time period.
The study has been published for the past 15 years, but this year the authors decided to focus on the pay of executives at the financial firms which got exceptional government assistance as the economy melted down last fall. Some of the highlights: Read more.
Getting investments on the cheap earlier this year is yielding big rewards for Wall Street's top brass: Thanks to the rebounding stock market, two credit card company chief executives have seen their compensation jump by more than $34 million while 22 other top bank execs also saw rich gains, according to a new report released today.
A study by the Institute for Policy Studies has found that the value of stock options granted in early 2009 to American Express Chief Executive Kenneth Chenault rose by nearly $18 million as of mid-August. Fellow CEO Richard D. Fairbank, of Capital One, saw his stock options grow by $16.3 million during the same period.
IPS, a liberal think tank, found that Chenault and Fairbank were among two dozen executives at eight major financial institutions to see their 2009 stock options jump by a total of nearly $90 million. Read more.
And so the guns come out blazing. The Clearing House Association, another name for all the banks that were bailed out over the past year with the generous contributions from all of you, dear taxpayers, are now threatening with another instance of complete systemic collapse if Bloomberg's lawsuit is allowed to proceed unchallenged, let alone if any of the "Audit The Fed" measures are actually implemented.
As a reminder, The Clearing House Association consists of ABN Amro, Bank Of America, The Bank Of New York, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, JP Morgan Chase, US Bank and Wells Fargo.
In a declaration filed in the Bloomberg Case (08-CV-9595, Southern District of New York), the banks demonstrate no shame in attempting to perpetuate the status quo with regard to the Federal Reserve and demand that the wool over the eyes of the general population remain firmly planted in perpetuity.
The Clearing House submits this declaration because the Court's Order threatens to impair the ability of our members to access emergency funds through the New York Fed's Discount Window without suffering the severe competitive harm that public disclosure of their identity will cause.
Our members have accessed the New York Fed's Discount Window with the understanding that the Fed will not publicly disclose information about their borrowing, especially their identity. Industry experience, including very recent and searing experience, has shown that negative rumors about a bank's financial condition - even completely unfounded rumors - have caused competitive harm, including bank runs and failures.
For background on this alarming, "take no prisoners" approach by the bankers, see bink's blog at Daily Kos, "The Secret That Will Destroy the World's Financial System." It starts out this way:
There's a secret out there.
A secret so incredible, so horrifying, so toxic that if the public ever heard about it, it would destroy the world's financial system....In November of last year, the Bloomberg news organization sued the Federal Reserve bank of the United States. The goal of the suit was to force the Fed to disclose information on the alphabet soup of lending programs it created in 2008 to help prop up Wall St. banks. Read more.
Growing Poverty and Despair in America
By Stephen Lendman
In 1962, Michael Harrington's "The Other America" exposed the nation's dark underside enough for John Kennedy to ask his Council of Economic Advisor chairman, Walter Heller, to look into the problem and for Lyndon Johnson to say (on January 8, 1964) that his administration "today, here and now, declares unconditional war on poverty in America."
In fact, it was little more than a skirmish that fell way short of addressing the real problem in the world's richest nation. Today it's even greater and increasing exponentially under a president who, unlike Johnson, declared war on the poor and disadvantaged to favor privilege over growing needs and essential social change.
In his book, Harrington wrote:
"In morality and in justice every citizen should be committed to abolishing the other America, for it is intolerable that the richest nation in human history should allow such needless suffering. But more than that, if we solve the problem of the other America we will have learned how to solve the problems of all of America." Sadly, we didn't then nor have we now.
BURLINGTON, Vt., Aug. 25 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today welcomed a court ruling that the Federal Reserve must reveal the names of banks that have received more than $2.2 trillion in secret loans.
Chief U.S. District Judge Loretta A. Preska yesterday rejected the Fed’s argument that loan records are not covered by the Freedom of Information Act. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has refused requests from Sanders and others to make public the names or loan recipients.
“This court decision is a victory for the American taxpayer. The American people have a right to know exactly who has received trillions of dollars from the Federal Reserve and what they are doing with this money. The Federal Reserve has kept this information secret for far too long. This money does not belong to the Fed. It belongs to the American people,” Sanders said.
“No one should have the power to print an unlimited supply of money and lend it to any bank or corporation it wants without accountability or oversight. This court ruling is an important step forward in increasing transparency at the Federal Reserve,” he added. “I hope it will not be appealed.”
The American Monetary Institute is holding its 5th Annual AMI Monetary Reform Conference on Sept. 24-27, 2009 at Roosevelt University in Chicago. Invited speakers include:
- Stephen Zarlenga, opens the Conference: AMI's Purpose, Objectives and Methodology
- Congressman Dennis Kucinich and his wife Elizabeth
- Prof. William Black will speak on Fraud's Critical Role in Producing the Financial Crisis
- Richard Cook will speak on: Democratization of the Monetary System
- William Bergman discusses Current Crucial Issues in Banking
- Chris Lindstrom speaks on The Myth of Money - The Spirit of Berkshares
- Prof. Michael Hudson speaks on The Key elements of How Real Monetary Reform Should Proceed
- Dr. Norman Ehrentreich and Prof. Michael Hudson "What's Next?"
- Michelle St. Pierre on Turning Talk into Political Action. How to sell the American Monetary Act to the American People and Congress
- Robert Poteat, will speak on the Moral Implications of Monetary Reform
- Jamie Walton on "The American Monetary Act - Why all Three Elements are necessary, and What they will do."
- Dr. Edward Chambers President of the Industrial Areas Foundation (the IAF) discusses: Organizing for Power, Action and Justice
- Nicolaus Tideman, Professor of Economics at Virginia Tech speaks on How Banks will Compete After the Reforms Needed for Stable Money and Stable Banking are in place
- Dick Distelhorst will present on What Must Be Done Now?
- Dr. Cay Hehner, Director, Henry George School of Social Science, NY, on "The End of Capitalism as we Know it"
- Reed Simpson will describe The Chinese Monetary System - Lessons & Cautions
- David I. Kelley discusses on the The Politics of Monetary Reform and Economic Justice
- Ben Dyson will discuss The Monetary Reform Situation in Great Britain & present a video interview with James Robertson
- Will Abrams of Canada presents the Reforms Instituted By Gerald Gratton McGeer
- Laurene Huffman presents Faith Based Financing - Islamic Lending in the United States
Sen. Sanders Statement on Bernanke Nomination | Press Release
BURLINGTON, Vt. – Aug. 25 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today issued the following statement on the nomination of Ben S. Bernanke for another term as chairman of the Federal Reserve:
"As a result of the greed, irresponsibility and illegal behavior of Wall Street our country has experienced the worst economic decline since the Great Depression. Mr. Bernanke was head of the Fed and the nation's chief economist as this crisis, driven by reckless speculation, developed. Tragically, like the rest of the Bush administration, he was asleep at the wheel during this period and did nothing to move our financial system onto safer grounds.
“As the middle class of this country continues to shrink, we need a chairman of the Federal Reserve who is more concerned about expanding the productive economy – increasing decent-paying jobs for all Americans – than continuing to fan the flames of Wall Street greed and outrageous compensation packages.”
Contact: Michael Briggs or Will Wiquist (202) 224-5141
Obama's failure to act sends one message loud and clear: He cannot stand up to the powerful Wall Street interests that supplied the bulk of his campaign money for the 2008 election. Nor, for that matter, can Congress, for much the same reason.
The American government -- which we once called our government -- has been taken over by Wall Street, the mega-corporations and the super-rich. They are the ones who decide our fate. It is this group of powerful elites, the people President Franklin D. Roosevelt called "economic royalists," who choose our elected officials -- indeed, our very form of government. Both Democrats and Republicans dance to the tune of their corporate masters. In America, corporations do not control the government. In America, corporations are the government.
This was never more obvious than with the Wall Street bailout, whereby the very corporations that caused the collapse of our economy were rewarded with taxpayer dollars. So arrogant, so smug were they that, without a moment's hesitation, they took our money -- yours and mine -- to pay their executives multimillion-dollar bonuses, something they continue doing to this very day. They have no shame. They don't care what you and I think about them. Henry Kissinger refers to us as "useless eaters."
But, you say, we have elected a candidate of change. To which I respond: Do these words of President Obama sound like change? Read more.
The Obstacles to Real Health Care Reform: Private Insurers and Big PhRMA
By Stephen Lendman
In almost the same breath on August 17, the White House effectively dropped a real public option (that likely never existed) while Obama was telling the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) that the Pentagon will escalate the Afghanistan/Pakistan war into a long-term conflict that will assure "more difficult days ahead." He did so in defiance of international and Constitutional law, the lives and welfare of American forces, millions in both target countries, and lied at the same time saying: "This is not a war of choice. This is a war of necessity" in plain contradiction of the fact that in October 2001, US forces launched a long-planned premeditated attack against a non-belligerent country posing no threat to America.
When does the willful blindness in terms of bank fraud taking place daily in the so-called "marks" on housing-related loans stop?
The Mortgage Bankers Association released its latest update:
The non-seasonally adjusted delinquency rate increased 64 basis points from 8.22 percent in the first quarter of 2009 to 8.86 percent this quarter.
The delinquency rate includes loans that are at least one payment past due but does not include loans somewhere in the process of foreclosure. The percentage of loans in the foreclosure process at the end of the second quarter was 4.30 percent, an increase of 45 basis points from the first quarter of 2009 and 155 basis points from one year ago. The combined percentage of loans in foreclosure and at least one payment past due was 13.16 percent on a non-seasonally adjusted basis, the highest ever recorded in the MBA delinquency survey.
That's right folks. That means that of all mortgage loans 13.16% are not in "accrual" status - that is, they're not performing in that interest and principal are not being paid. This is no longer about "subprime" - it is now all about prime loans; the claim that this was going to be "contained' is now proved false.
That our banks are not being forced to take the marks associated with these delinquencies is an outrage. It is the cause of the FDIC's losses, it is the cause of our credit system remaining locked up, and it is the cause of our continued moribund economy, as without a functioning credit system there can be no actual economic recovery.
These institutions are being protected by our Congress and the willful, intentional blindness of The Federal Reserve, FDIC, OTS and OCC.
These agencies and persons have the same data that is being released to the market. The stock market continues to rally not based on improving economics but based on the federal government and The Federal Reserve continuing to allow institutions to LIE about their financial condition and the expectation that the LIES will be permitted to continue! Read more.
"Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union," by David Swanson is due in stores September 1st, but the publisher has it now and you can get it straight from Seven Stories Press.
I've done a lot of writing about HOAs and the egregious plague they are for whoever is unfortunate enough to find themselves subjugated to their tyranny, but now there is a more pressing problem that has its origins from the same misguided, nefarious source. That, of course, would be healthcare.
In 1889, the Supreme Court decided a case, Minneapolis & St. Louis Railroad v.Beckwith, which declared that a corporation is a "person", with regard to due process and equal protection under the Constitution. That is, you, and a stack of contracts, a "paper man" if you will, attained equal standing under the law. What a disaster. This decision set this country on the path that is responsible for the deplorable situation we now find ourselves in.
In effect, we are now a nation of "corporate citizens", who have the power and resources to shape the society in ways that would have been met with skepticism even a generation ago. We are governed by an increasingly isolated and incestuous group of figureheads, who prostitute themselves willingly for even the slightest chance of licking up the crumbs left for them by the corporations. It's "Rollerball" for real.
Obama, who managed to instill a sense of hope the likes of which hadn't been seen for fifty years, turned out to be nothing more than a great orator with almost no capacity for true leadership. Lacking the will to really fight for the things he supposedly believes in, he parades around speaking platitudes about "special interests" and "bipartisan solutions". On closer inspection however it turns out he has surrounded himself with the same cast of corrupt characters, shills for corporate America, who have no real desire to do anything that would truly "... promote the general welfare ...", as stated in the Constitution, for "We The People". To paraphrase Hollywood, in this case "The Best Man", Obama has "no sense of right or wrong, no sense of responsibility to anyone or anything, only to what works. That is a tragedy in a man and a disaster in a president". Read more.
By Dave Lindorff
Bill Clinton was the worst thing to happen to the Democratic Party and to progressives since that racist warmonger Woodrow Wilson won the presidency and dragged the US into the utterly pointless and incredibly bloody First World War.
Clinton, by posing as a progressive, confused and undermined, and ultimately betrayed the liberal/progressive wing of the party, shattering what was left of the New Deal coalition and leaving the American left adrift and riven by the conflict between those who thought the Democratic Party was the only viable vehicle for progressive reform and those who thought it was hopelessly in the grip of corporate interests.
Barack Obama offers the hope of bringing that era of debilitating confusion to an end.
Is there a ticking time-bomb for the US economy? And is the Obama administration, Congress, and the media not paying it sufficient attention? That seems to be the message of a government report released this week that drew not as much notice as it deserves.
This is all about those toxic assets--now euphemistically referred to by the US government as "legacy assets"--that were at the core of the economic meltdown. Though some economic news of late has been not so bad--economic contraction slowing, job losses leveling off, banks passing stress tests--these toxic assets still pollute the nation's financial system and endanger it. Read more.
...Missed payments by consumers, builders and small businesses pushed 72 lenders into failure this year, the most since 1992. More collapses may lie ahead as the recession causes increased defaults and swells the confidential U.S. list of “problem banks,” which stood at 305 in the first quarter....“These numbers are off the charts,” said Blake Howells, an analyst at Becker Capital Management in Portland, Oregon, referring to the nonperforming loan levels at companies he follows. Banks are losing the “ability to try and earn their way through the cycle,”...While 5 percent can be “fatal” for home lenders,...“Once it gets around 10 percent, you’re likely toast.”
More than 150 publicly traded U.S. lenders own nonperforming loans that equal 5 percent or more of their holdings, a level that former regulators say can wipe out a bank’s equity and threaten its survival.
The number of banks exceeding the threshold more than doubled in the year through June, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, as real estate and credit-card defaults surged. Almost 300 reported 3 percent or more of their loans were nonperforming, a term for commercial and consumer debt that has stopped collecting interest or will no longer be paid in full. Read more.
Global Depression and Regional Wars - Reviewing James Petras' New Book: Part I
By Stephen Lendman
James Petras is Binghamton University, New York Professor Emeritus of Sociology. Besides his long and distinguished academic career, he's a noted figure on the left, a well-respected Latin American expert, and a longtime chronicler of the region' popular struggles. He's also a prolific author of hundreds of articles and dozens of books, most recently his new one titled, "Global Depression and Regional Wars" addressing America, Latin America and the Middle East.
Part I - Global Depression
Variety's famous October 30, 1929 headline is again relevant: "Wall Street Lays an Egg," or as economist Rick Wolff puts it: "Capitalism hit the fan" following a familiar pattern of boom and bust cycles punctuated by bubbles that always burst. Petras explains it this way:
"All the idols of capitalism over the past three decades have crashed. The assumptions and presumptions, paradigms and prognosis of indefinite progress under liberal free market capitalism have been tested and have failed. We are living the end of an entire epoch (and bearing witness to) the collapse of the US and world financial system."
Grim prospects are ahead:
- a world depression with one-fourth of the labor force unemployed;
- global trade in free fall;
- a proliferation of bankruptcies with General Motors a metaphor for a decaying system;
- free-market capitalism in disrepute; and
- "planning, public ownership, nationalization(s and other) socialist alternatives have become almost respectable" because most sacred cow "truisms" and solutions have failed.
Last week, Deutsche Bank analyst Karen Weaver published a report that shook up the "housing is recovering" crowd. She predicted that, by next year, nearly half of American homeowners with mortgages will be underwater.
Before we go into the details, here's a basic refresher on the US housing market:
- There are approximately 110 million households in the U.S.
- About 75.5 million of these are homeowners.
- Approximately 68% of the 76 million, or 51.6 million, have mortgages.
- 14 million U.S. homeowners, 27% of those with mortgages, were underwater at the end of Q1 (DB estimates)
- DB estimates that nearly half of the 52 million mortgagors will be underwater by the end of next year. Read more.
Gerald Celente - The Revolution is Coming! Part 1
Watch Part 2 by clicking "Read more."
The World needs a breather from the US. And they'll get it sooner than many think
We're making this way too complicated. It's simple really.
The Fed has only one tool at its disposal; to create more money. Typically, the way the Fed adds to the money supply is by lowering interest rates. When the Fed lowers rates below the rate of inflation; they're basically selling dollars for under a buck. That's a good deal, so, naturally, speculators jump on it and trigger a credit expansion. What follows is a frenzy of market activity that ends in a housing, credit, tech or equity bubble. Eventually, the bubble bursts and the economy goes into a tailspin. Then, after a period of digging-out, the process resumes again. Wash, rinse, repeat. It's always the same. The moral is: Cheap money creates bubbles; and bubbles move wealth from workers to rich motherporkers. It's as simple as that. That's why the wealth gap is wider now than anytime since the Gilded Age. The rich own everything.
The Federal Reserve is the policy arm of the big banks and brokerage houses. Period. Ostensibly, its mandate is to maintain "price stability and full employment". Right. Anyone notice how many jobs the Fed has created lately? How about the dollar? Is it really supposed to zig-zag like it has been for the last decade? The central task of the Fed is to shift wealth from one class to another. And it succeeds at that task admirably. The Fed's "mandate" is public relations claptrap. Bernanke hasn't lifted a finger for homeowners, consumers or ordinary working stiffs. "Yer on yer own. Just don't expect a handout. That's socialism!" All the doe is flowing upwards...according to plan. The Fed is a social engineering agency designed to serve as the de facto government behind the smokescreen of democratic institutions. Did you really think a black, two year senator with no background in foreign policy or economics was calling the shots? Read more.
Watchdog Warns Toxic Assets Remain a Major Danger to Financial System
Report by Congressional Oversight Panel Says the Troubled Asset Relief Program Never Bought Any Troubled Assets
By Matthew Jaffe and Charlie Herman | ABCNews
Signs abound that the worst of the recession is over: Stocks have been surging, the rate of job losses has slowed, so it seems that the economic apocalypse has been averted.
Government programs such as the $787 billion stimulus and last fall's $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program have so far been successful, the Obama administration says.
Except, the Congressional Oversight Panel warns in its August report, TARP never actually bought any troubled assets.
"It is likely that an overwhelming portion of the troubled assets from last October remain on bank balance sheets today," the panel's report says. Read more.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner formally requested that Congress raise the $12.1 trillion statutory debt limit on Friday, saying that it could be breached as early as mid-October.
"It is critically important that Congress act before the limit is reached so that citizens and investors here and around the world can remain confident that the United States will always meet its obligations," Geithner said in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that was obtained by Reuters.
A Treasury spokeswoman declined to comment on the letter.
Treasury officials earlier this week said that the debt limit, last raised in February when the $787 billion economic stimulus legislation was passed, would be hit sometime in the October-December quarter. Geithner's letter said the breach could be two weeks into that period, just as the 2010 fiscal year is getting underway.
Losing track of all the money the government is spending to bolster the crashing economy left the nation by George W. Bush? Check out CNN's Economic Rescue Tracker. Each black arrow to the right of the category expands to tell you more.
By Dave LIndorff
As I wrote months ago in an article titled America’s Stupid Health Care Debate: Keeping Some Ideas Off the Table and several subsequent pieces on my website, President Obama and the Democrats who currently run Congress have been hoist on their own collective petard by their craven and gutless refusal to consider adopting a Canadian-style single-payer system to finance health care in the US, or simply to expand Medicare, which is a successful single- payer program, to cover everyone, instead of just people over 65 and the disabled.
A cancer survivor's family is still in their Oakland home after winning a battle so many Americans are now facing. They were going to be foreclosed upon and evicted today. Read more.
OAKLAND, CA - 31JULY09 - Home Defender activists sit in on the steps of the home of Tosha Alberty, her husband, four children and two grandchildren, who were evicted after First Franklin Mortgage Services, owned by Merrill Lynch and Bank of America, foreclosed on the home. Community activists in the Home Defenders campaign of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) sat in on the house steps behind the padlocked gate in an act of civil disobedience, and were arrested for trespassing by the Oakland Police.
Click "Read more" for photos of the action.
By Dave Lindorff
The “happy talk” campaign in the US media and coming from the White House is just that: Happy Talk.
To get a real picture of what is happening with this economy, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Yes, the rate of decline in economic activity has slowed. But that is to be expected. When an economy is going at full tilt, as the US economy was doing in early 2007, a slowdown of any significance yields huge numbers, in terms of falling production, falling factory utilization, falling car sales, or, this time around, falling housing prices.
But once you get to the same period in 2008, you’re already in a deep recession, and there really isn’t that much farther to fall. If, for example, the carmakers have basically shut down by fall of 2008, and are just working off huge inventories, then you are not going to see more factory closings and further reductions in production (how do you reduce production below zero?).
House votes to clamp limits on Wall Street bonuses
By Anne Flaherty, Associated Press | Google
Bowing to populist anger, the House voted Friday to prohibit pay and bonus packages that encourage bankers and traders to take risks so big they could bring down the entire economy.
Passage of the bill on a 237-185 vote followed the disclosure a day earlier that nine of the nation's biggest banks, which are receiving billions of dollars in federal bailout aid, paid individual bonuses of $1 million or more to nearly 5,000 employees.
"This is not the government taking over the corporate sector," Rep. Melvin Watt, D-N.C, said of the House action. "It is a statement by the American people that it is time for us to straighten up the ship."
Aware of voter outrage about the bonuses, Republicans were reluctant in Friday's debate to push back, even though they voted overwhelmingly against the bill. They said severe restrictions should apply only to banks that accept government aid.
The legislation's ban on risky compensation would apply to any firm with more than $1 billion in assets, including bank holding companies, broker-dealers, credit unions, investment advisers and mortgage buyers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
The White House and Senate Democrats haven't fully embraced the measure, leaving its prospects uncertain. The Senate Banking Committee planned to take up the proposal in the fall as part of a broader bill overhauling financial regulations. Read more.