Banking Reform’s Fear Factor

Nearly five years after the worst financial crisis since the 1930’s, and three years after the enactment of the Dodd-Frank financial reforms in the US, new rules have been promised, but very few have actually been implemented. As a result, one question is on everyone’s mind: Why have we made so little progress?

WASHINGTON, DC – Nearly five years after the worst financial crisis since the 1930’s, and three years after the enactment of the Dodd-Frank financial reforms in the United States, one question is on everyone’s mind: Why have we made so little progress?

New rules have been promised, but very few have actually been implemented. There is not yet a “Volcker Rule” (limiting proprietary trading by banks), the rules for derivatives are still a work-in-progress, and money-market funds remain unreformed. Even worse, our biggest banks have become even larger. There is no sign that they have abandoned the incentive structure that encourages excessive risk-taking. And the great distortions from being “too big to fail” loom large over many economies.

There are three possible explanations for what has gone wrong. One is that financial reform is inherently complicated. But, though many technical details need to be fleshed out, some of the world’s smartest people work in the relevant regulatory agencies. They are more than capable of writing and enforcing rules – that is, when this is what they are really asked to do.

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