The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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Business & Technology

August 20, 2013

Obama urges regulators to enact Wall Street rules

(Continued)

Three years after passage, many other Republican lawmakers also see the law as more negative than positive.

The law set up a council of regulators to be on the lookout for risks across the finance system. It also created an independent consumer financial protection bureau within the Federal Reserve to write and enforce new regulations covering lending and credit. And it placed shadow financial markets that previously escaped the oversight of regulators under new scrutiny, giving the government new powers to break up companies that regulators believe threaten the economy.

But because of the complexity of the industry, the law gave regulators extended time to write the new rules that would enforce its provisions.

So far, regulators have missed 60 percent of the rule-making deadlines, according to an analysis by the law firm of DavisPolk, which has been tracking progress on the bill. Even so, the rules are so complicated, that the ones that have already been written have filled about 13,800 pages of regulations, compared to the 848 pages it took to write the law itself.

“I would have to give it a mediocre grade at this point,” said Sheila Bair, the former chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. “Most of rules have not been finalized. A lot of them haven’t even been proposed yet. When some of the rules have been proposed , they ‘re highly complicated, they’re riddled with exceptions, they’re watered down.”

A key goal of the legislation was to prevent a rebuilding of a financial system that would permit banks to become so huge and intertwined that they would be “too big to fail.” But the nation’s top banks today are bigger than they were in 2008. A key proposal in the law would restrict banks from trading for their own profit, a practice known as proprietary trading. That rule, named after former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, has yet to take effect and the current proposal has been weakened from what the law initially envisioned.

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