The beginning of the end of meaningful regulatory reform

By Felix Salmon
September 23, 2009
begun in earnest:


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The erosion of the Obama administration’s regulatory-reform plans has now begun in earnest:

At a hearing before the House Financial Services Committee, Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner announced that the administration had dropped one provision in its plan for a consumer financial protection agency — a requirement for banks and other financial services companies to offer “plain vanilla” products, like 30-year fixed mortgages and low-interest, low-fee credit cards.

There’s no good reason for this capitulation, except for the financial lobby has so effectively captured Congress that no reform would be able to get through with such a common-sense provision in place. This has nothing to do with the government “approving and disapproving a wide array of financial products”, it just says that anybody who wants to call themselves a bank should provide simple, basic banking products which aren’t prone to hidden fees and lucrative opacity. I fear that by the time Congress is done, the Consumer Financial Protection Agency won’t be able to protect consumers at all — and that’s assuming it’ll even exist.

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