This Monday, President Barack Obama met with the heads of financial regulatory agencies, including Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen and the SEC’s Mary Jo White to praise them for their implementation of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform, and to urge them “to consider additional ways to prevent excessive risk-taking across the financial system, including as they continue to work on compensation rules and capital standards”.
The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (commonly referred to as Dodd Frank) was signed into federal law by President Obama on July 21, 2010. It has brought about the most significant changes to financial regulation in America since the regulatory reform that followed the Great Depression. The stated aim of the legislation is “To promote the financial stability of the United States by improving accountability and transparency in the financial system, to end “too big to fail”, to protect the American taxpayer by ending bailouts to protect consumers from abusive financial services practices, and for other purposes”
The Act changed the existing regulatory structure in an effort to streamline the regulatory process, increasing oversight of specific institutions, amending the Federal Reserve Act,, promoting transparency, etc.
This past Monday, the president specifically recognized the Volcker Rule (originally proposed by American economist and former United States Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volker to restrict United States banks from making certain kinds of speculative investments that do not benefit their customers). This rule went into effect April 1, 2014, with banks’ full compliance required by July 21, 2015.
The Volker Rule prohibits banks from conducting certain investment activities with their own accounts, and limits their ownership with hedge funds and private equity funds (also called cover funds). The understanding behind the rule is that these types of speculative investments contributed to the 2008 financial crisis and need to be avoided in the future.
President Obama has been pleased with progress that the regulators have made in implementing The Volker Rule (and the rest of Dodd-Frank), and believe its affects on financial reform will be the biggest legacy of his presidency.
These laws and regulations are not without controversy. Republican chairman of the House committee that oversees financial regulation, Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas believes Dodd-Frank is not only far-reaching, but harmful for struggling Americans.
With ever changing regulations, both federal and state specific, controversy is expected. Without controversy, there can be no progress in the financial sector of The United States. With comments and input encouraged on all proposed changes, both parties are hopeful, and remain positive, that not only a common ground – but a successful state – can be reached.