Merkley-Levin amendment aims to bring integrity back to marketplace

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Among the amendments that will be introduced to strengthen the Senate financial reform bill is one by Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Carl Levin (D-Mich.) that would take aim at “proprietary trading” — the practice of banks using their own money, as opposed to their customers’, to try to profit off of the various trading markets.

The Merkley-Levin amendment would regulate some of the risk-taking and create conflict-of-interest rules to prevent banks from doing what Goldman Sachs is accused of doing — marketing bad investments to customers while raking in huge profits by betting against those very investments.

At a telephone news conference Thursday, Sen. Merkley explained that his amendment is about bringing integrity back to the financial markets. From Mark Trumball’s story in the Christian Science Monitor:

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D) of Oregon, a co-sponsor of the amendment, told a press briefing Thursday that he and Levin are starting to enlist support across party lines, and that some Republicans share his concerns about proprietary trading.

“This is not a liberal or conservative issue,” Mr. Merkley said. “The integrity of the Wall Street system of allocating capital is a pro-business position.”

Merkley was joined on the call by Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, Mike Konczal, a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute and a financial blogger, economist Jane D’Arista with the Political Economy Research Institute.