Obama’s Plan for Tightening Financial Regulation

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

President Barack Obama proposed sweeping new “rules of the road” for the nation’s financial system.   These changes represent a critically important response to the economic crisis and the greatest regulatory transformation since the Great Depression.  

The plan, laid out in an 88-page white paper, was the result of extensive consultations with members of Congress, regulators and industry groups and represented a compromise from bolder ideas that the administration had examined but ended up abandoning because of heavy opposition.   The Obama administration made the following proposals:  

  • Give the Federal Reserve new powers to oversee the entire financial system, hoping that the central bank will be able deal with the kinds of problems that were allowed to build to such an extent that they ended up overwhelming the system last year, resulting in the collapse of some of America’s largest financial institutions. 
  • Give new powers to the Federal Reserve to oversee the largest and most interconnected institutions in the financial world.  The Fed’s expanded authority would reach into currently unregulated regions of the financial markets such as hedge funds and exotic instruments like credit default swaps.  However, even as it gained new powers, the Fed would lose some banking authority to the new Consumer Financial Protection Agency.
  • Require the Fed, which now can independently use emergency powers to bail out failing banks, to first obtain Treasury Department approval before extending credit to institutions in “unusual and exigent circumstances.” This change designed to mollify critics who charged that the Fed needed to be more accountable in exercising its powers as a lender of last resort.
  • Create a council of regulators, led by the Treasury Department that would police the entire financial system for risky products.
  • Create a new consumer protection agency to guard against the kind of mortgage and other credit abuses that played a major role in the current crisis.   The creation of the new consumer agency is aimed at guarding against the kinds of lending abuses which resulted in many Americans being saddled with far more mortgage debt than they could handle.
  • Eliminate the Office of Thrift Supervision, generally considered a weak link among current banking regulators. The OTS oversaw the American International Group, whose business insuring exotic securities blew up last fall, prompting a $182 billion federal bailout. OFS also oversaw other high-profile blowups like Countrywide Financial Corp., IndyMac Bank and Washington Mutual Inc.
  • Create additional protections for investors, including greater disclosure by hedge funds, regulation of credit default swaps and over-the-counter derivatives that previously operated outside of government oversight and new conditions on brokers and originators of asset-backed securities.
  • Create a system for the orderly disposition of any troubled, interconnected firm whose failure would pose a risk to the entire financial system, together with rules that insist that financial institutions hold more capital for safety’s sake.
Anna Timone (195 Posts)

Speak Your Mind