Ex-Fed chair calls for regulatory reform

Former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker is pushing to reform Washington's regulatory landscape.

Volcker unveiled a series of wide-ranging, sweeping proposals on Monday that would overhaul how regulators oversee banks and financial institutions on Wall Street and Main Street.

Volcker, who made the pitch with his organization The Volcker Alliance in D.C., said the reforms are needed to fix an outdated regulatory structure.

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"This is not a heavy, ideological issue. It's a technocratic issue but it's an important issue," Volcker said. "It's remarkable when there's been something like 25 official inquiries and committees and commissions to look at this subject since World War II. Has it changed anything? No. It's just left a lot of loopholes and openness and failure to keep up with markets and what did we have? The mother of all financial crises."

He wants to combine the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) with the Commodities and Future Trading Commission (CFTC) to better streamline the regulatory process. He'd also eliminate the Office of the Comptroller Currency (OCC).

And he wants create a special commission within the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) to designate financial institutions as "systemically important financial institutions" (SIFIs).

SIFI designation has become a regulatory hot topic in Washington since the 2008 crisis. If regulators designate a financial institution as a SIFI, that institution is beholden to more stringent regulations.

"If we can't modernize our regulatory financial structure in a way that reflects the changes in the market we're in trouble — big trouble," he said.

Volcker said that he had met with staffers of the Senate Banking Committee, chaired by Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.).

It's unclear whether his ideas will gain any traction with a Congress and administration that has show little desire to work on large-scale financial regulatory restructuring five years after the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform bill became law.