Happy birthday Dodd-Frank

July 21, 2011 06:32 AM

Today is the one-year anniversary of the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Funny as it only seemed like yesterday that we were trying to understand the various components of the massive legislation as Congress debated it.

There hasn’t been a piece of legislation so debated, maligned and blamed for negative consequences prior to most of the underlying elements of it going into affect since, well since the Obama Heath Care reform, the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or PPACA.  

Implementation of many Dodd-Frank provisions has been delayed until the end of the year and legislation has been passed that would push implementation further out. But here we are in mid-2011 and most of the reforms passed by Congress to address regulatory failures have not been enacted. With 2012 being an election year — when major progress rarely gets done — it is possible that relatively few changes will be made in our financial structure despite the 2008 meltdown.

It is a sign of a sick political culture. While it is fair to criticize parts of any legislation, which we have done here, the idea that we could go a whole four-year cycle without significant progress after a meltdown the size and scope of the credit crisis is down right sad. That is true whether you blame the legislation itself or opposition to it. This was the type of event that called for action. That called for the ordinary political posturing to be laid down and leaders to address the core problems that led to this disaster.  Or at least to the bailout. Perhaps a simpler solution would have been to force a breakup of all the so called “too big to fail” institutions, ensuring no institution would be too important to have to face the consequences of their poor decisions.

Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Chairman Gary Gensler stated today in testimony before the Senate Banking Committee, “The 2008 financial crisis occurred because the financial system failed the American public. The financial regulatory system failed as well.” 

I have a feeling he likes to remind that to folks who are keen to overturn or defang Dodd-Frank. It is good to remember what happened.

Perhaps the problem is that most of the really bad things that could have occurred did not. Kind of like the current debt ceiling crisis. So after the dust settles and the banks got bailed out, perhaps some folks wondered what was the big deal?

Unfortunately, the decision makers are the ones that failed and they are listening to the people who were bailed out. For them there were some tense moments but the banks are back in the black, thanks to government and Federal Reserve largesse, though the rest of the economy is faltering. These folks are far removed from the current economic wreckage caused by the crisis.

The banks immediate needs were met and now they are spending considerable money to prevent changes to the way they do business.

It is an ominous thought as we slip closer to the Aug. 2 debt ceiling deadline, but anger over the bailout could cause folks to ignore the warnings of impending disaster. No bailout should have been passed without a plan to prevent it in the future. Dodd-Frank probably attempted to do too much.

About the Author

Editor-in-Chief of Modern Trader, Daniel Collins is a 25-year veteran of the futures industry having worked on the trading floors of both the Chicago Board of Trade and Chicago Mercantile Exchange.