Oregon senators propose reforms

WASHINGTON — In the U.S. Senate debate over how to prevent another financial crisis, Oregon’s senators are working separately to get to the same goal.

U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., is crafting an amendment with Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., that would ban proprietary trading by banks and outlaw financial firms from betting against investments that they sell. Fellow Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden has introduced a narrower amendment with Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., that would require Wall Street firms to disclose when they stand to profit from their investment products going up or down in value.

Merkley’s proposal has gotten the most attention, especially in the financial press, because it’s far more sweeping. He’s outlined the general points in many interviews over the past week, but had yet to introduce an amendment on Thursday afternoon.

Merkley has said the measure would ban banks from using their own resources to invest in stocks or more complicated financial products. It would also outlaw the kinds of conflicts of interest that led the Securities and Exchange Commission to sue Goldman Sachs last month for marketing investments that were partially assembled by an investor who was betting against those products.

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