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Lawmakers approve big Wall Street revamp

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Congressional negotiators Friday approved the most sweeping overhaul of U.S. financial regulation since the Great Depression, reshaping oversight of Wall Street.

Lawmakers from the House and Senate worked through the night in a 20-hour session to reach deals on a ban on proprietary trading by banks and oversight of the derivatives market. This month, they’ve also agreed on measures to wind down big firms whose collapse might shake markets, to keep tabs on hedge funds and to make it easier for investors to sue credit rating companies.

“When one says this is the biggest change in our financial regulation in 70 years, that’s not an exaggeration,” Stuart Eizenstat, former deputy Treasury secretary under President Bill Clinton, said Friday in an interview in Washington. “This is much more profound and much more far-reaching, because it really deals with the new financial world that was created in a way by the end of Glass-Steagall."

A committee of lawmakers from the House and Senate spent two weeks reconciling the bills passed by each chamber. The legislation still needs to be approved by the full House and Senate. Congressional leaders aim to hold those votes next week and present it for President Barack Obama’s signature by July 4.

“This is going to be a very strong bill, and stronger than almost everybody predicted that it could be and that I, frankly, thought it would be,” House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat, told reporters Wednesday as lawmakers prepared for the final round of talks.

The bill seeks to protect consumers, curb risks, boost surveillance of emerging threats to markets and give regulators more emergency powers to avoid future taxpayer-funded bailouts of too-big-to-fail firms.

“They are huge accomplishments,” Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd told reporters June 23.

Whether the legislation—now named the Dodd-Frank bill—takes the right steps, or goes far enough, is still a matter of debate.

“It doesn’t reform anything, not anything that needs to be reformed,” said William Isaac, the former chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and now chairman of Fifth Third Bancorp, in an interview on Wednesday. “We haven’t done anything to repair this 100-year-old regulatory structure.”
 

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  • Huh?
    Dodd-Frank? No thanks.
    No significant compromises were made with Republicans in crafting this bill.

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