Financial Planning | Legislative / Regulatory

More on finance reform: Opinions and details galore

Happysad Opinions are rolling in about the impending financial reform package making its way through Congress.

Some say it goes too far, adding "enormous costs and uncertainty on financial markets" while offering little protection to investors, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Others say it doesn't go far enough. "It won't break up the biggest banks, or cap the amount of assets that they can hold," opines Pat Garofalo. "It doesn't resurrect any of the barriers between investment and commercial banking that existed for 50 years after the New Deal, or mandate that banks hold a certain amount of capital to hedge against risk."

If both sides are upset, you've either hit the bull's eye or missed the target completely. Rest assured, others will undoubtedly chime in before all is said and done.

In the meantime, further details are emerging about the reform plans.

First, there's this comprehensive financial reform summary from CCH, which provides a closer look at derivatives, consumer protection and the differences between the Senate and House versions of the bill.

Next, there's this from Dow Jones Newswires reporter Victoria McGrane (and our thanks to the folks at Going Concern for finding this):

A top U.S. lawmaker said the final version of sweeping financial regulatory legislation will likely retain a House provision that would exempt small and mid-size companies from audits required under the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley accounting law.

House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank (D., Mass.) said the provision should survive House-Senate conference negotiations to reconcile differences between the two chambers' bills.

The Senate bill doesn't include the accounting exemptions.

"'I believe the votes are there whether I like it or not,' said Frank, who opposed the amendment to add the exemptions in his committee. A proposal he offered on the House floor to strip the provision failed by a large margin."

This legislative initiative strikes me as eerily similar to the effort to build the Sarbanes-Oxley Act: There's a rush to do something, anything, and in that rush, common sense sometimes gets left behind. When something is put together this quickly, there are bound to be unintended consequences.

But heck, that's nothing new. When we're talking about politics, common sense is often the first to go.

What do you think of the reform package?


Bill Sheridan