Vol. LIV No. 2

The Expressive Synergies of the Volcker Rule

Abstract:  In this Article, I propose an implementation of the Volcker Rule that balances the statutory mandate to promote the safety and soundness of U.S. banking organizations with the significant role that bank-affiliated dealers currently play as providers of liquidity in over-the-counter markets. The Volcker Rule restricts the proprietary trading activities of U.S. banks and their affiliates subject to exemptions for traditional banking activities and certain “client-oriented” activities. This Article draws upon the academic literature regarding expressive law, the history of federal banking legislation, and the text of the Dodd-Frank Act to argue that federal financial regulators have the discretion to implement the Rule’s exemption for “market-making-related activities” to realize synergies with Dodd-Frank’s initiatives in the regulation of over-the-counter markets. Specifically, I envision that the market making exemption could be implemented with a view to encouraging the provision of liquidity to competitive trading facilities. I further argue that such an implementation may well be essential to the vitality of the Volcker Rule, in light of the political forces aligned in favor of the Rule’s repeal.

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