Audit Notes: Lobbying Both Ways, SEC Scrutiny, Steve Jobs,

The banks have been carping about the complexity of the Volcker Rule, which aims to prevent them from making risky gambles backstopped by taxpayers.

But as ProPublica’s Jesse Eisinger notes, the banks themselves are largely responsible for the complexity of something that should be pretty straightforward:

Yet bank lobbyists with complicit regulators and legislators took a simple concept and bloated it into a 530-page monstrosity of hopeless complexity and vagueness.

They couldn’t kill the rule. Instead, they are getting Congress and regulators to render it morbidly obese and bedridden.

Now Bloomberg reports that Wall Street lobbyists did something similar with another aspect of the Volcker Rule:

U.S. banks pushed regulators to widen proposed restrictions on trading and hedge-fund ownership by foreign firms, then encouraged governments around the world to complain about the rule’s reach.

The two-pronged lobbying strategy resulted in foreign officials joining U.S. lenders to push back against the Volcker rule, named after former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul A. Volcker and incorporated in the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act.

The banks don’t want the Volcker Rule at all, so they push for it to apply to foreign banks, which helps protect them from competition in case the rule actually gets implemented, while also helping them muster the massive firepower that the united ire of a besieged continent’s banks and governments can bring to bear.

As far as lobbying goes, you have to admit it’s pretty genius.

The Wall Street Journal reports that a former top subprime securities banker has been warned by the SEC that it might charge him for misleading investors in a deal created for Magnetar. It cites sources who say the charges could come this summer:

SEC officials are focusing on Mr. Rekeda’s role in a $1.6 billion collateralized debt obligation called Delphinus CDO 2007-1. Mr. Rekeda was head of a team at Mizuho that assembled Delphinus. Like other CDOs, the Delphinus deal was created using pools of mortgages and other loans. Slices of the deal were sold to investors. In a sign of the financial alchemy that transformed risky assets into deals blessed with top credit ratings, as much as 70% of those pools could be linked to subprime loans, according to a 2007 report by Fitch Ratings.

As in previous SEC probes of alleged wrongdoing before and during the financial crisis, investigators contend that investors who purchased pieces of Delphinus weren’t told that a firm helping to create the mortgage-bond deal also was betting that some of its underlying assets would decline in value, people familiar with the investigation said.

Why is this particularly notable? Because of this:

If Mr. Rekeda is charged with civil wrongdoing by the SEC, he would be the highest-profile CDO creator snared so far in the agency’s probe of Wall Street’s structured-finance machine.

— My friend Maureen Tkacik writes about Apple’s late Steve Jobs over at Reuters. It’s quite the contrast to all that hagiography you’ve read on him over the last several months (and years).

It’s hard to summarize this piece in a note, so read the whole thing, but here’s an excerpt:

In the end Steve Jobs’ contempt for human life did not exempt his own. He sacrificed himself thoughtlessly in one final and meaningless act, an act of radical branding so brave and revolutionary the media listed the cause of death as pancreatic cancer.

Of course, as we learn in Steve Jobs, to attribute Steve Jobs’ death to pancreatic cancer is to libel the cancer. In 2003 Steve Jobs had a pancreatic cancer scare that turned out to be a pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor, an extremely rare and slow-growing condition that accounts for only 1 percent of pancreatic cancer cases. It was the best-case scenario. His wife told Isaacson she remembered his doctors “tearing up with joy” when they learned the good news.

But then Steve Jobs refused to have surgery, once again putting all his faith and bullying, reality-blind certitude into his insufferable brand of sanctimonious veganism. This wasn’t a matter of passing up radiation and chemo; this was a matter of passing up every cancer patient’s dream of not even having to go through radiation and chemo.

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Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum. Tags: , , , ,