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Revving up the Fed engine

Alisa Roth Mar 31, 2008


Scott Jagow: The U.S. financial system hasn’t seen many repairs since the Great Depression. But this morning, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson will unveil something of an engine rebuild. His plan, from what we’ve gathered, is a mix of streamlining and more regulation.

This is just a blueprint. Congress has to sign off on it, and that could take who knows how long. But Alisa Roth looks at what the administration has in mind.

Alisa Roth: The proposal suggests giving the Federal Reserve a lot more power. Like being able to peek into the books of any institution it thinks threatens stability in the financial system.

The plan also proposes streamlining oversight by getting rid of or merging some agencies, such as the SEC and the Office of Thrift Supervision.

Chris Lowe is chief economist at FTN Financial. He says the administration’s proposal is a great place to start the discussion.

He agrees with critics who say it still needs some work. For example:

Chris Lowe: When you look at the changes in regulation of the securities industry, there’s no teeth in it. And a lot of people are saying if the Fed’s going to act as an insurer of last resort of the securities industry, they have to have a look into the books and they have to have some say in capital requirements and so on.

The real debate will likely come along party lines. And in any case, nobody’s expecting anything before the November elections.

In New York, I’m Alisa Roth for Marketplace.

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