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Special Report on Regulatory Reform

Special Report on Regulatory Reform

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Published by FOXBusiness.com
Modernizing the American Financial Regulatory System: Recommendations for Improving Oversight, Protecting Consumers, and Ensuring Stability
Modernizing the American Financial Regulatory System: Recommendations for Improving Oversight, Protecting Consumers, and Ensuring Stability

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Published by: FOXBusiness.com on Jan 29, 2009
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08/22/2012

 
 
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1
C
ONGRESSIONAL
O
VERSIGHT
P
ANEL
 S
PECIAL
R
EPORT ON
R
EGULATORY
R
EFORM
 
I. Executive Summary ........................................................................................................................... 2
 
1. Lessons from the Past ........................................................................................................... 2
 
2. Shortcomings of the Present ................................................................................................. 2
 
3. Recommendations for the Future ......................................................................................... 4
 
II. Introduction ....................................................................................................................................... 6
 
III. A Framework for Analyzing the Financial Regulatory System and its Effectiveness ................... 8
 
1. The Promise and Perils of Financial Markets ...................................................................... 8
 
2. The Current State of the Regulatory System ........................................................................ 9
 
Failure to Effectively Manage Risk ............................................................................. 9
 
Failure to Require Sufficient Transparency ............................................................... 13
 
Failure to Ensure Fair Dealings .................................................................................. 15
 
3. The Central Importance of Regulatory Philosophy............................................................ 19
 
IV. Critical Problems and Recommendations for Improvement ........................................................ 22
 
1. Identify and Regulate Financial Institutions that Pose Systemic Risk ............................... 22
 
2. Limit Excessive Leverage in American Financial Institutions .......................................... 24
 
3. Modernize Supervision of Shadow Financial System ....................................................... 284. Create a New System for Federal and State Regulation of Mortgages and otherConsumer Credit Products ................................................................................................ 30
 
5. Create Executive Pay Structures that Discourage Excessive Risk Taking ........................ 37
 
6. Reform the Credit Rating System ....................................................................................... 40
 
7. Make Establishing a Global Financial Regulatory Floor a U.S. Diplomatic Priority ....... 44
 
8. Plan for the Next Crisis ....................................................................................................... 46
 
V. Issues Requiring Further Study ...................................................................................................... 49
 
VI. Acknowledgments......................................................................................................................... 50
 
VII. About the Congressional Oversight Panel .................................................................................. 51
 
VIII. Additional Views ........................................................................................................................ 52
 
Richard E. Neiman .................................................................................................................. 52
 
Congressman Jeb Hensarling and former Senator John E. Sununu ....................................... 54
 
Appendix: Other Reports on Financial Regulatory Reform ............................................................... 90Report Submitted under Section 125(b)(2) of Title I of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Actof 2008, Pub. L. No. 110-343
 
 
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I. Executive Summary
1. Lessons from the Past
Financial crises are not new. As early as 1792, during the presidency of George Washington, thenation suffered a severe panic that froze credit and nearly brought the young economy to its knees.Over the next 140 years, financial crises struck on a regular basis—in 1797, 1819, 1837, 1857,1873, 1893–96, 1907, and 1929–33—roughly every fifteen to twenty years.
 
But as the United States emerged from the Great Depression, something remarkable happened: thecrises stopped. New financial regulation—including federal deposit insurance, securities regulation,and banking supervision—effectively protected the system from devastating outbreaks. Economicgrowth returned, but recurrent financial crises did not. In time, a financial crisis was seen as a ghostof the past.After fifty years without a financial crisis—the longest such stretch in the nation’s history—financial firms and policy makers began to see regulation as a barrier to efficient functioning of thecapital markets rather than a necessary precondition for success.This change in attitude had unfortunate consequences. As financial markets grew and globalized,often with breathtaking speed, the U.S. regulatory system could have benefited from smart changes.But deregulation and the growth of unregulated, parallel shadow markets were accompanied by thenearly unrestricted marketing of increasingly complex consumer financial products that multipliedrisk at every stratum of the economy, from the family level to the global level. The result proveddisastrous. The first warning followed deregulation of the thrifts, when the country suffered thesavings and loan crisis in the 1980s. A second warning came in 1998 when a crisis was onlynarrowly averted following the failure of a large unregulated hedge fund. The near financial panic of 2002, brought on by corporate accounting and governance failures, sounded a third warning.The United States now faces its worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. It is critical thatthe lessons of that crisis be studied to restore a proper balance between free markets and theregulatory framework necessary to ensure the operation of those markets to protect the economy,honest market participants, and the public.
2. Shortcomings of the Present
The current crisis should come as no surprise. The present regulatory system has failed toeffectively manage risk, require sufficient transparency, and ensure fair dealings.Financial markets are inherently volatile and prone to extremes. The government has a critical roleto play in helping to manage both public and private risk. Without clear and effective rules in place,productive financial activity can degenerate into unproductive gambling, while sophisticatedfinancial transactions, as well as more ordinary consumer credit transactions, can give way toswindles and fraud.A well-regulated financial system serves a key public purpose: if it has the power and if its leaders

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