One of the interesting things about the Occupy Movement is to see how it grows in different directions. From one of the working groups in Zuccotti Park came Occupy the SEC. The idea of Occupy the SEC is to work at the policy and regulation level, not just in streets and parks.One of their first orders of business was to respond to Volker Rule which as Business Week explains “limits the bets financial firms can make with their own money”, you know, money insured by the FDIC. The Washington Post has a longish article on the success of the Occupy the SEC group and what it has done with the Volker Rule. When federal agencies, such as the SEC, propose regulations, they put these regulations out there for public comment. Usually public comment is done by lobbyists and corporations who have the money and manpower to sift through the rather long and cumbersome regulations. Occupy the SEC changed all that.
Just a few weeks earlier, Occupy the SEC had submitted its first official letter on Volcker to the SEC, holding marathon 12-hour meetings through the weekends to finish the response before the agency’s Feb. 13 deadline for comment. Now they’re trekking to Washington to present their 325-page treatise before federal regulators in official meetings with the FDIC, the Federal Reserve, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and, yes, the SEC.
Last week, they met with 60-odd congressional staffers, including some Republicans, to give them a closed-door briefing on the regulation. And at the end April, the group is slated to sit down with Paul Volcker himself, the former Federal Reserve chair and namesake of the regulation.
The group has also worked on responses to scores of questions that the CFTC has raised about the Volcker Rule, which falls under the jurisdiction of multiple federal agencies — yet another source of regulatory headaches that the Occupy wonks are trying to sort out. Next up? Probably a comment letter on the Federal Reserve’s guidelines for determining which banks will be considered “systemically important” and thus subject to additional oversight.
Occupy the SEC is, in other words, working the system. And that can cause tension within a movement with members who would prefer to blow the system up.
More reading on Occupy the SEC can be found at: