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You are here News Economy How Wall Street captured Washington’s effort to rein in banks

How Wall Street captured Washington’s effort to rein in banks

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Wall StreetIn the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, Keith Higgins was certain: Banks weren’t to blame.

Higgins, a top attorney at prominent law firm Ropes & Gray LLP, was chairman of an American Bar Association committee on securities regulation. As such, he lobbied strenuously against a rule U.S. regulators were drafting that would require banks to disclose a lot more about asset-backed securities like those that had just torpedoed the economy.

In letters to the Securities and Exchange Commission, Higgins argued that divulging more details about the mortgages and other financial products that go into such securities would only confuse investors. And it was investors, with “insufficient understanding and … commitment” to their investments, who had been the real cause of the crisis, he argued in a July 2008 letter.

Then, in May 2013, as the SEC was still hashing out the rule, Higgins was tapped to lead the very 500-person SEC division that was writing it.

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