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Policy: Economy

Jack Lew calls for tighter global bank oversight

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The world's biggest economies need to do more to bolster financial rules to avoid a repeat of the disastrous 2008 financial crisis, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said Thursday.

Lew said he will use a February meeting in Australia of the Group of 20 major industrial countries to push other nations to overhaul their banking regulations.

"I will use this opportunity to call on the world's biggest economies to bear down even more forcefully on implementation," Lew said in a speech assessing the status of banking reforms.

"We will take steps to make sure that global banks meet the high standards that we have set," he said.

Lew said tougher rules were needed in other countries to make sure banks don't move their operations to nations with lax regulations.

"We must avoid a race to the bottom," he said.

Australia will take over the rotating chairmanship next year of the G-20, the group of major industrial countries such as the United States, Britain, Japan and Germany and leading emerging markets such as China, Brazil and India.

Finance ministers and central bank officials from the G-20 countries are scheduled to meet in February.

Lew's remarks came in advance of meetings Tuesday at which U.S. banking regulators are expected to approve a final version of the "Volcker rule." That rule would bar banks with federally insured deposits from making speculative trades that could threaten the stability of the institution.

The rule, named for former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, was included in the Dodd-Frank law. Congress passed Dodd-Frank in 2010 to overhaul bank regulations after the financial crisis. But regulators have struggled to draft specific language for the Volcker rule.

Lew said the language the regulators were adopting would bar the type of risky trading bets like the one involving the "London Whale," which resulted in a $6.2 billion loss in 2012 for JPMorgan Chase, the biggest bank in the United States.

"It prohibits risky proprietary trading while protecting economically essential activities," Lew said.

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