Obama administration pushes broader version of 'Volcker Rule'

Thursday, March 4, 2010; A14


Broader version of 'Volcker Rule' pushed

The Obama administration asked Congress on Wednesday to consider a broader version of the "Volcker Rule" that would impose limits not just on the investment activities of banks but also on the largest non-bank financial companies.

The proposal, named for its foremost proponent, former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker, would restrict banks from pursuing investments not primarily intended to benefit customers.

The draft legislation that the Treasury Department delivered to Capitol Hill also would increase oversight of investments by other financial companies, in some cases requiring those firms to hold larger capital reserves against unexpected losses.

Key Democrats on the Senate banking committee have said that they do not plan to adopt the administration's proposal, instead preferring to give federal regulators the discretion to impose limits on a case-by-case basis. That language would be included in the sweeping financial reform legislation being prepared by the panel's chairman, Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.).

-- Binyamin Appelbaum


Toyota owners complain about 'fixed' cars

Some Toyota owners say they're still having trouble with unintended acceleration after their recalled cars were repaired, and the Transportation Department said it is looking into their complaints.

The complaints raise new questions about whether Toyota's remedy will solve the problem. David Strickland, the administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said in a statement that the agency is reaching out to consumers about the complaints "to get to the bottom of the problem and to make sure Toyota is doing everything possible to make its vehicles safe."

The government has received a limited number of acceleration reports from the Toyota owners whose floor mats or gas pedals have been fixed. Toyota and the government are investigating potential electrical problems as part of the Japanese automaker's recall of more than 8 million vehicles worldwide.

-- Associated Press


-- GM's Lutz to retire: Bob Lutz, the longtime auto industry executive who led a far-reaching transformation of the General Motors lineup, said he will retire May 1.

Lutz, GM's vice chairman, has been responsible for an overhaul in design at the automaker. He has called the Chevrolet Volt his proudest achievement. "My work is done here," he said. "The whole organization, top to bottom, now has absolute product superiority as the highest objective."

-- Geithner adviser leaving Treasury: Lee Sachs, an adviser to Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner, is planning to leave the Treasury Department next month, officials said.

Sachs, 46, has been a key architect of Treasury's approach to rescuing the financial system, including a series of "stress tests" on big banks that helped restore confidence in these firms. His departure comes as the Obama administration's focus is shifting from big bank bailouts to long-term plans to revive the economy and bring down the nation's deficit.

Treasury officials are planning to make the crisis response team he established a permanent fixture of the agency.

Geithner could also be losing another key member of his team. Senior counselor Gene Sperling is in talks to become the deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget.

-- News services and staff reports

© 2010 The Washington Post Company