THE BASIS POINT

Financial Reform Fact Sheet, And The Bill’s ‘Hotel California’ Provision Defined (Gipsy Kings Style)

Following yesterday’s announcement of sweeping financial reform from Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd, here’s a good fact sheet summarizing key provisions of the full bill. Worthwhile read for anyone who’s tired of trying to decode healthcare bills. This financial bill isn’t as grey as healthcare bills, but passing it will be an equally tough battle given the level of sophistication lawmakers are dealing with when it comes to regulating bankers and traders whose purpose in life is to exploit inefficiency.

One notable part of the bill is the Hotel California provision, which says that, even though firms like Goldman and Morgan were converted to banks back in September 2008 (so they could access the Discount Window and other government assistance in the heat of crisis), they can’t just drop that status now in order to escape regulation. Makes sense as a measure to stem Wall Street’s privatize-profit-and-socialize-losses model. But the Hotel California label feels like a slap in their faces. However, that seems to be the point, and the pop culture link certainly helps people remember what’s actually going on, or at least makes them want to learn the meaning of the reference—which is more than any lawmaker has done for helping decode the healthcare debate. Below is Dodd’s Hotel California provision, and below that is Hotel California—a special bTunes dedication to Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. But true to our bTunes approach, we’re mixing it up by picking the much better Gipsy Kings cover (featured in The Big Lebowski). As Dodd’s logic goes: they can check out of their government aid eligibility any time they’d like, but they can never leave the regulatory realm.

No Evasion: Large bank holding companies that have received TARP funds will not be able to avoid Federal Reserve supervision by simply dropping their banks. (the Hotel California Provision)