Buffett Lobbies Dems to Soften Derivatives Rule

And he may succeed in getting current contracts exempted
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 26, 2010 7:44 AM CDT
Buffett Lobbies Dems to Soften Derivatives Rule
Berkshire Hathaway Chairman and CEO Warren Buffett is interviewed before lunch at Smith and Wollensky in New York, Monday, Feb. 22, 2010.   (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Warren Buffett, the guy who once called derivatives “financial weapons of mass destruction,” is now lobbying Democrats to soften their restrictions on derivatives in the upcoming financial reform bill. It seems they would, as presently written, hurt his bottom line. Berkshire Hathaway has $63 billion in derivatives, the Wall Street Journal reports, so Buffett's pushing a provision to exempt existing derivatives contracts from the new rules.

The proposal is getting a big push from Sen. Ben Nelson in the Agriculture Committee, but it's unclear if it will make it into the final legislation. The White House doesn't like it, arguing that it will weaken the government's ability to regulate the market. But Buffett thinks that Congress doesn't have the authority to rewrite existing contracts, and that his change would help people who use derivatives as a legitimate hedge against risk. (More Berkshire Hathaway stories.)

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