Feature

Spotlight

Dennis Kelleher

Dennis Kelleher is David to Wall Street’s Goliath, said Annie Lowrey in The New York Times. As head of the nonprofit Better Markets, the “wisecracking, fast-talking” former corporate lawyer fights for tougher banking regulations, and often finds himself outgunned by Wall Street’s massive lobbying machine. “For a long time, there had been no organization dedicated solely to going toe-to-toe with the financial industry,” he says. “That’s what we do.” Kelleher, who specialized in cleaning up after corporate scandals before working on Capitol Hill, now spends his days meeting with financial regulators, giving media interviews, and writing detailed studies on the need for strict bank rules. “We exist to fight back against the forces trying to make us forget just how bad it was” in 2008, he says.

Kelleher says the banks’ latest ploy to avoid regulation is to cast their risky bets as hedging, said Jeff Gelles in The Philadelphia Inquirer. JPMorgan Chase claimed as much about its $2 billion trading loss last month, which Kelleher insists was “a pure, huge, high-risk leveraged bet” aimed at making big profits-—just the kind of gamble that the draft Volcker rule should prohibit. If your hedging loses billions, he says, “you’re either grossly incompetent and should be fired, or you’re lying.” 

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