On Tuesday, we're heading to the White House for a sit-down with one of President Obama's top economic advisors. The topic du jour: A complete makeover for the financial regulatory system.
On Friday, the White House made a formal push to pass new laws on the way financial services providers are governed. The plan was outlined in June in the White House's 89-page white paper, "A New Foundation: Rebuilding Financial Supervision and Regulation," and we covered Friday's unveiling right here.
Nearly 400 Fools heeded our call for questions and comments. (Read some chosen comments below.)
Tomorrow, your voice will be heard in Washington. We're heading to the White House to meet one-on-one with a member of the President's Council of Economic Advisers, and we'll be armed with your top questions and comments. There's still time to add your thoughts, so be sure to weigh in via the "comments" area below.
Wall Street vs. White House
One of the cornerstones of the White House's plan is the establishment of a new federal agency -- the Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA) -- against which Wall Street is pushing back mightily.
As outlined in Obama's plan, the CFPA would consolidate the power to regulate banks (keeping an eye on their financial soundness and any new financial products) and oversee consumer protection (setting rules and enforcing regulations on products and services related to borrowing, insuring, and investing).
Currently, oversight of this array of financial services is spread out among seven separate agencies.
Supporters say consolidation will streamline the current process, making it easier to set and uphold industry standards and more quickly identify issues in the financial sector that pose systemic threats.
Opponents say that the cost of complying with new/additional regulations will slow down or halt industry innovation, which will ultimately hurt consumers and shareholders.
What Fools are saying
The establishment of a new federal agency was just one of the issues Fools like you raised, along with concerns about accountability, responsibility, and the need for effective enforcement.
DavidInTX wrote: "My biggest concern is that we'll 'throw out the baby with the bathwater.' Sure, changes are needed. Sure, major flaws in the present system led to our current economic malaise. Sure we need to align incentives with desired outcomes. However, let's not discourage innovation. Credit Default Swaps aren't, in and of themselves, bad. On the contrary, they are a decent financial innovation that was badly misused. Let's focus on limiting the potential for misuse, and not on restricting innovation."
salsmanistan wrote: "Publicly held companies should be held accountable by the shareholders and we should demand transparency, but I will very much regret any government-enforced size limits on a business provided it isn't a monopoly."
On the need for real enforcement
Afthought wrote: "Greater regulation is not the answer. Enforcement of existing regulations through prosecution and imprisonment of violators would bring a higher degree of honesty to the financial world."
On consumer responsibilities and shareholder rights
valuepenguin wrote: "Who exactly needs to be protected, and from what or whom? You can't apply for a credit card or loan without seeing what the terms are, whether they are in fine print or not. Those who were 'taken advantage of' were willing victims in 99% of the cases; that they now have buyers remorse should not be the concern of the U.S. government. Three cheers for those who recommended enforcing current laws/regulations before imposing new ones."
coconnor55 wrote: "As has been pointed out by many people, good intentions can have unintended consequences. That said, stronger shareholder control is essential, as already proposed in the Shareholder Bill of Rights."
Bob78164 wrote: "I'd like the bill to address mandatory arbitration provisions in consumer finance contracts. I think that such provisions are very heavily weighted against consumers. First and foremost, arbitrators don't have to follow the law, and they are powerless to establish legal precedents that the entire industry has to follow."
pacificdreamer wrote: "Any new regulatory authority should have a governing, or at least an advisory, board made up of non-industry professionals."
Last call: What do YOU want us to ask the White House?
As representatives of the collective intelligence of our community, we will be heading into D.C. tomorrow armed with your questions.
We all have a vested interest in the way the financial system is governed. Chime in, Fools -- we're heading to the White House tomorrow. Just use the "comments" section below and let us know what you'd like us to ask.
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