Wall Street’s Wild West days are almost over. Tonight, by a count of 59 to 39, with four Republicans voting along with the Democratic majority, the Senate passed a 1,500-page financial reform bill. It not only includes the so-called Volcker Rule, which limits banks’ proprietary trading, but will create new consumer protection, curbs on banking, federal oversight of derivatives, restrictions on the size of financial giants, and a process to break them down without burdening taxpayers.
“It’s a good day,” said Sen. Scott Brown, one of the Republicans who voted for reform.
In a statement, Sen. Carl Levin, whose subcommittee grilled Goldman Sachs last month, complained about the unbridled greed that created unheeded risk, which created an atrocious financial crisis. “Wall Street may not have learned the lessons of that story,” he said, “but we must pay attention. We must act. We must return the cop to the Wall Street beat, or once again suffer the consequence.”
Still, it will take weeks to combine the Senate bill with the House’s version. The Times has an excellent run-down of the differences between the two, although their cores are similar. And Reuters and the Wall Street Journal both have good features on financial reform’s cast of characters. It turns out, for example, that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who won Sen. Brown’s last-minute support, used to be a boxer.