AFR Cheers on the New Law of the Land As a Win for All Americans

The Wall Street reform legislation is a victory for the American people and a defeat for those who defended the status quo.

The bill was signed into law by President Obama on July 21, 2010.

Read our posts about the bill.

Here’s What the New Law Will Do:

Landmark consumer protection: Consumers will now have an independent advocate on their side to prevent tricks and traps related to mortgages, payday loans and checking accounts. Credit cards and mortgages will offer terms in language we can all understand.  It will also offer help for those abused by predatory lenders and limit banks from charging businesses hefty fees for debit-card purchases.  Read more about the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Shining Light on Shadow Markets: The $600 trillion derivatives market will now operate in the open, so regulators can catch problems – like the credit default swaps that brought down the economy – before they happen. Most deals will have to be backed up by a separate clearinghouse and traded on public exchanges. The participants will have to actually prove they have the money to cover their bets. In addition, hedge funds and private equity funds will have to register with the SEC and have regulators watching over them.  Read more about Derivatives Trading.

Preventing taxpayer bailouts: The government will have the authority to step in and safely shut down any failing financial firm, not just banks, instead of propping them up with taxpayer money. One regulator will be in charge of watching for emerging threats to the whole financial system – and will have the tools and authority to ensure those threats are actually visible.  Read more about Systemic Risk Regulation.

Reining in the Wall Street Casino: Banks will be barred from gambling for their own account with your money. Banks will have to separate some of their derivatives trading operations into affiliates.

Mortgage reforms: For the first time lenders are prohibited from making loans that borrowers cannot repay, and banned from receiving kickbacks for steering people into high rate loans when they qualify for lower rates. Consumers are protected from abusive loan fees and penalties for prepaying.

Strong investor protections: Shareholders will have new tools to hold corporate boards and management accountable, including a voice on executive compensation decisions and an enhanced ability to nominate and elect corporate directors. Brokers will have to act in the best interests of their customers. Read more about Investor Protection.

Holding Credit Rating Agencies Accountable: Credit rating agencies will no longer have a vested financial interest in giving high ratings to risky investments. Better controls will hold rating agencies accountable for the reliability of their reporting.  Investors will be able to sue credit rating agencies who slap a high rating on a risky investment.  Read more about Credit Rating Agencies.

Opens the Fed’s books: The Fed’s emergency lending programs from the financial crisis will be audited to see where the money went. The Fed will also have to disclose loans it makes to banks through its discount window.

Read more about what the law will do.

Read AFR coalition members’ statements on the passage of the financial reform bill.

Read AFR’s statement.

(Photo: David Paul Ohmer)