To mark the tenth anniversary of President Obama signing the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act into law, Americans for Financial Reform hosted a series of virtual events asking what we have learned, and what changes we think are needed now to protect consumers, uproot systemic racism, and transform finance so that it contributes to a resilient, equitable and sustainable economy.
“I think really the most striking thing about this polling has been its consistency,” Lisa Donner, executive director of Americans for Financial Reform, told Vox. “The experience of the crisis was a really deep and serious one for people. It may have faded into memory of some policy makers and some regulators, unfortunately, but it has not faded in people’s memory because the experience was long-lasting for people.”
Ten years after the financial crisis, a majority of members of the Congress that wrapped up work in 2018 voted again and again for bills pushed by the bank lobby that endanger financial stability, undermine consumer and investor protections, and enable racial discrimination in lending. The change in control of the House and a heightened awareness of the dangers posed by these actions provide an opportunity to see what changes in the 116th Congress.
“Department enforcement plays a critical role in ensuring banks and payment processors meet [their] legal obligations,” the lawmakers say in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder. “Unfortunately, recent cases demonstrate the seriousness of the consequences when those obligations are not met. Accordingly, we urge the Department to enforce vigorously applicable laws pertaining to payment fraud, money-laundering, and other illegal payments…”
“Though small compared to Wall Street and the right, groups like Americans for Financial Reform and Better Markets show up extensively in the comments on the Volcker Rule. In the final rule, there are hundreds of references to the detailed comment letter the Occupy the SEC group sent…” The work of these outside groups “is a major piece of what makes solid final rules happen.”
While many in Washington would rather stand pat or turn back the clock, Americans are strikingly united in wanting more financial reform, not less, according to a national survey of likely voters conducted this summer.
Congress will soon be back from recess – and back to gnashing its teeth over the budget and the various important things that, too many in that branch of government now contend, our country can no longer afford to do. They could expand their sense of the possible by considering a source of revenue they have so far largely ignored – a small tax on sales of stocks, bonds, and complex financial instruments.
In today’s global financial markets, risk is not bounded by geographic borders but instead flows to whatever entity is ultimately liable for a transaction. While the CFTC hasmoved forward in the face of intense industry pressure, its guidance leaves some doubt about a potential cross-border loophole.