Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Inside Story on Dodd-Frank

By John Carney

We're in a bar near Penn Station on a Monday night.

There aren't many drinkers left, even though its only 8 pm. The commuters who indulged in start of the week happy hour drinks have headed westward to catch the train. A few tourists, possibly lost, populate the tables scattered around the place. A few middling sports fans glance up at televisions showing Monday night football.

"You wouldn't believe how f----ed this law is," our drinking companion says.

He works at a major US financial firm and has been assigned to a task force to implement the new financial-reform law. These groups exist inside all the biggest banks and investment houses these days.

We signal to the waitress to bring us another round of pints.

"When I went down to Capitol Hill, the Republicans said that there was nothing they could do. The Democrats wouldn't talk to them. The honest Democrats said the law was written at the behest of unions. The staffers who actually wrote the law had no clue. They were 24-year-old kids, sitting around in flip-flops, feet up on desks," he says.

These groups of financial pros spend their time pouring through the thousands of pages of financial reform passed into law this summer, attempting to figure out what they mean for their business.

There are some serious flaws in the legislation. Not just thing the bankers regard as "flaws" but problems in the way the law works. As an example, many provisions of the law require determinations to be made by a few different regulators—the Fed, the SEC, the FDIC—but provide no mechanism for resolving disputes between the regulators. These agencies have long histories of being fiercely territorial.

Read the rest here.

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