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Track Financial Reform with New St. Louis Fed Web Site: Congress Considering 15 Regulatory Reform Proposals


James Fuchs
Thursday, October 1, 2009

If ultimately signed into law, the regulatory reform proposals presented to Congress this summer could significantly alter how financial institutions in the United States are regulated and, in some cases, structured.

Since releasing its regulatory reform white paper June 17, the Treasury Department has submitted more than 15 legislative proposals to Congress. In turn, Congress has held more than 22 hearings, formally introduced two of the bills to a key oversight committee and conducted a full House of Representatives vote on one of them, all in less than six weeks.

The St. Louis Fed created the Reforming the Nation's Financial System Timeline web site to track the proposals, congressional and regulatory agency hearings and testimony, and committee members' statements.
The most significant proposals as of late August include:

  • creation of an eight-member Financial Services Oversight Council to identify and mitigate threats to the financial system;
  • elimination of the federal thrift charter and creation of one single national bank supervisor;
  • creation of an independent Consumer Financial Protection Agency to oversee and enforce consumer protection laws and regulations at all financial institutions (except for the enforcement of the Community Reinvestment Act);
  • mandatory registration of all credit rating agencies with the Securities and Exchange Commission;
  • creation of an Office of National Insurance to issue and collect reports on the insurance industry;
  • establishment of uniform de novo branching standards, regardless
    of charter;
  • conversion of industrial loan companies, credit card banks and thrift holding companies to bank holding companies;
  • granting new authority for the Fed to supervise all firms, regardless of structure or charter, that pose a threat to financial stability; and
  • creation of a new resolution regime for financial institutions deemed systemically important (identified as Tier 1 financial holding companies).

The consumer agency proposal would require nationally chartered banks to comply with state consumer protection laws and regulations if the state requirements would offer a higher level of consumer protection than those of the new agency.

Before Congress' August recess, only two pieces of legislation had been formally introduced into the House Financial Services Committee: the consumer agency proposal and a bill on executive compensation, which would give shareholders of publicly traded companies a greater say on executive pay. The House passed
the compensation bill July 31.