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News Now

Washington
Discord could delay regulatory reforms
WASHINGTON (5/28/09)-- U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has promised to present a comprehensive blueprint for regulatory reform in the coming weeks, saying in a recent interview with Bloomberg TV that he wanted people to “be able to look at the whole” plan all at once instead of breaking the potential regulatory changes into smaller “pieces.” However, American Banker on May 27 reported that institutional infighting, a loaded legislative calendar, and simple differences in regulatory approach may prevent lawmakers and other government officials from completing any substantive regulatory reform in the near future. President Barack Obama’s administration has not yet spelled out how it thinks the current regulatory structure should be reformatted, although late-breaking stories last night said senior administration officials are considering a single agency to regulate the banking industry. The Washington Post, for instance, said the administration may push legislative reforms that would create a new, single authority to police risks to the financial system, as well as a new agency to oversee consumer protections. Still, as the American Banker noted, whatever form a new regulatory scheme takes, the administration and influential congressmen have different views on how to tackle the reform legislatively. House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) has suggested that the larger task of governmental agency consolidation could be treated separately from a bill aimed at enhancing oversight of “systemically important institutions.” Frank has publicly supported allowing the Federal Reserve to oversee said institutions. However, Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and others favor an all-in-one approach to regulatory reform, noting how difficult it can often be to get a single bill passed, not to mention multiple bills, the paper reported. Washington turf wars could also forestall any regulatory progress, as various regulatory agencies may fight over what role they would take on in an altered regulatory landscape. Recently, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman Mary Schapiro said she would question any regulatory model that would shift investor protection functions to another oversight body. The article also noted some speculation during the past few weeks that Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) could advocate for the creation of a financial products safety commission similar to the current Consumer Products Safety Commission.


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