The Dodd-Frank ‘sculpture’

Nancy Marshall-Genzer Dec 11, 2015
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The Dodd-Frank ‘sculpture’

Nancy Marshall-Genzer Dec 11, 2015
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Things have gotten so gridlocked in Congress that you can’t get really difficult legislation passed on its own. You often have to attach it as a rider to something Congress must approve, like the appropriations legislation.  

“So this is sort of the last train in the station,” Chris Krueger, Washington strategist at Guggenheim Securities, said of the must-pass budget bill that’s due from Congress by Friday. “It’s probably the last really big must-pass bill before the elections. So everyone is trying to get a ride out of town for their particular legislation.”  

Lawmakers who want to change the Dodd-Frank financial reform law are among those trying to hitch a ride. One of the biggest changes they want? A different benchmark for deciding a bank is too big to fail.  

Right now, all banks with more than $50 billion in assets get that label, and are subject to more regulation. A Dodd-Frank rider would raise the threshold to $500 billion.

“We had a rock, and we began to sculpt it and it took the form of Dodd-Frank,” said Ed Groshans, managing director of financial services research at Height LLC. “And now we want to refine it.”

Groshans said some changes are necessary, so Dodd Frank can do what it’s supposed to do. Aaron Klein at the Bipartisan Policy Center agrees. Klein is an economist who helped write the law, when he worked for former Senator Chris Dodd (D-Conn.)

He thinks of Dodd Frank as a sculpture made of clay.

“We gave a tremendous amount of clay to the financial regulators to sculpt,” he said. “And so, as they continue to shape it, Congress looks at what they’re making and provides them real time feedback.”

Klein recognizes that some in Congress don’t want Dodd-Frank changed at all and were upset by changes made last year, calling them rollbacks. And Democrats, led by Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) are pledging to fight changes this year.

But Klein said no matter what happens, Dodd-Frank is here to stay.” Klein said the structure of the Dodd Frank “sculpture” is firmly in place. 

Plus, financial institutions have invested a lot of money conforming with Dodd-Frank.  And going back to square one, if Dodd Frank were repealed, he said, would be very expensive.

 

 

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