Paul Volcker: How To Identify Prop Trading In Three Simple Steps

paul volcker

Paul Volcker is fed up with the argument made by bankers that it may be impossible for regulators to curb speculative trading, because they can’t define it and will misinterpret the banks activities.

According to the former head of the Fed, it’s easy to identify a speculative trade — which the Volcker Rule, named for him, aims to curb at the banks.

Simply put, “if there are big unhedged positions constantly, then it’s proprietary trading,” Volcker explains.

But for regulators who still aren’t sure, Volcker has a three-step method to identify the activity.

1. Ask the bank or check to see if it has taken on any “big positions in certain markets or is holding assets for lengthy periods of time.”

2. Ask why they bought it.

3. Ask why they’ve been holding on to it for the length of time that they have.

Pretty simple, in his opinion. Which is why he’s had it with the bankers using that “disingenuous” argument to lobby against the provision.

“Big, unhedged market bets are easy to spot,” Volcker told Reuters. “As are patterns in a bank’s trading book.”