Basel III Update

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So how are the Basel III negotiations going? You know, the ones that would tighten bank capital requirements, reduce leverage, and, in the words of the Wall Street Journal, “have greater implications for banks and the global economy than the U.S. regulatory changes emerging in Washington”? Here’s the latest:

International regulators are moving toward an agreement that would require banks to raise vast sums of new funds to cushion against future losses, but in a concession to the industry and some governments, the rules are likely to take effect later than expected, according to people familiar with the matter.

….France, Germany and Japan have pushed for as much as a 10-year window before the rules go fully into effect, and U.S. and U.K. officials recently have indicated that they would support a gradual time frame, according to people familiar with the matter. “I’m perfectly comfortable with us negotiating reasonable transition period to help make people more comfortable that they can live with those new standards,” U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said Wednesday afternoon in Washington, before leaving for the G-20 meeting.

Hell, even I don’t have any problem with this. And it sounds like no one else does either. If the new requirements are stiff enough to actually make a difference, we’d be nuts to demand that banks adopt them immediately in an environment where growth is already slow, lending is anemic, and raising risk capital is difficult. The real question isn’t so much the timeframe for adopting the new rules, it’s whether the rules are any good. Here’s what we know about that:

Other crucial details remain unresolved, including disputes over the types of funds banks will be allowed to count toward toughened capital and liquidity requirements. Bank executives, sometimes with backing from their governments, have been waging an intense lobbying campaign to water down parts of the so-called Basel proposals, known for the Swiss city in which the accords traditionally have been negotiated.

This is the real battleground, but the Journal doesn’t have anything to tell us about that. The best we have right now, via Felix Salmon, is an article from Global Risk Regulator a few days ago that suggests the Basel negotiators are likely to stick to their guns and issue tough new regulations in the very near future. Keep your fingers crossed.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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