Wall Street will be closely watching the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday as the nation's top financial officials testify about the roll out of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law.
Markets will be listening for comments from Deputy Treasury Secretary Neil Wolin on the nation's new systemic risk council and what its actual authorities will be. The council, which has been nicknamed "F-Sock" for its acronym FSOC, will hold its first meeting on Friday. CNBC sources understand that the council will vote on 7 or 8 items related to the Volcker rule— the hotly watched new restrictions on Wall Street trading — during the meeting.
Another key issue will be whether these F-Sock meetings will be held in public or not. There's been some debate over this and the inside word is that the meetings will follow Fed's structure — held behind closed doors with minutes released at a later date.
Investors will also be watching the body language between Wolin and Chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) Sheila Bair, on back of speculation of a "violent tension" between Treasury and the FDIC earlier this week over a proposed FDIC rulemaking that was ultimately scrapped. Bankers will be watching to see if Wolin and Bair can smile at each other and make nice for the cameras.
One protocol side note: Wolin is a number two. Every other agency is sending its number one, including the Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben Bernanke. All eyes will be on Wolin to see how he performs at the "grown-up" table.
Below are other issues markets will be paying attention to:
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — Some Senators will likely ask whether President Barack Obama evaded the Senate confirmation process with the Elizabeth Warrenappointment to a non-confirmable administration job overseeing the new consumer agency.
- Derivatives — I hear there's tension between SEC and CFTC, as there has been for a long time. There is concern by some members of Congress about CFTC interpretations on definitions and end user requirements. Expect questions.
Meanwhile, CNBC has obtained the written testimony of all the principals for tomorrow, and below are some highlights.
SEC Chairman Mary Schapirowill tell Congress she needs 800 more staffers to handle her new duties. With regards to executive compensation, she says that she's setting a December deadline for considering proposed new rules.
Some excerpts from her testimony: "The regulations or guidelines will prohibit incentive-based compensation practices that encourage firms to take inappropriate risks and will require firms to disclose to their respective appropriate financial regulator their incentive-based compensation structures. The Commission staff has met with other regulators in preparation for drafting either proposed regulations or guidelines. To meet the April 2011 adoption deadline, we anticipate that the staff will submit proposed rules to the Commission for consideration as soon as December."
And watch FDIC chairman Sheila Bair's testimony for veiled hints to the tension between regulators."
According to her testimony: "The Council's success will be determined by the willingness of its members to work together closely and expeditiously to implement the Council’s duties and to do so in a way that is not just a 'paper exercise.'”
"It is important to remember that the Council was formed to take a long-term, macro viewpoint. It was not meant to interfere with or complicate the ability of the independent agencies to fulfill their statutory mandates and move ahead with clearly needed reforms. We look forward to collaborating with our colleagues to assure continued progress in strengthening the stability of our financial system and utilizing our respective authorities and individual areas of specialized expertise to close regulatory gaps which contributed so greatly to the financial crisis."