We would not, by any stretch, agree with those who argue there is no need for regulatory downsizing and to leave well enough alone.
Year after year, rules are added to the books. Many serve an important purpose and stand the test of time. Others either outlive their relevance or had very little reason to exist in the first place.
Discerning eyes should always be reviewing the output of regulatory agencies to ensure there is a balance and rules protect market integrity without punitive, growth-choking overreach.
It is troubling, however, that Congress (and some regulators) are attempting an act of misdirection worthy of Keyser Söze. With an inability to craft legislative achievements inside the Beltway, critics of the current regulatory regime are trying to substitute deconstruction for problem solving.
Only in this overly politicized climate could killing an agency with the words “consumer” and “financial” in its very name be pitched as helping frontline consumers. We are talking about, of course, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Yes, the CFPB has greatly overreached in some areas. There is boldness, however, in convincing average citizens that their lives will be so much better if Congress reclaims budgetary authority of the Bureau and solves other political tantrums.
Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) is among the most vocal critics of the CFPB and other regulators. Of the Bureau’s recent ban on mandatory arbitration, he lamented that the “bureaucratic rule will harm American consumers but thrill class action trial attorneys.”
There is merit to Hensarling’s concerns about the rule, and regulatory build-up and overreach in general. Look, however, at the rest of his recent statement about the arbitration rule: “In the last election, the American people voted to drain the D.C. swamp of capricious, unaccountable bureaucrats who wish to control their lives.”
The Bizarro World political calculus is that removing consumer protections is the best way to protect consumers.
Remember the accounting scandals that drove Enron and WorldCom into the ground and, in reaction, birthed the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and its new disclosure and accounting rules? The regulation cavalry has a selective memory.
A subcommittee of the House Financial Services Committee recently conducted a hearing on “current issues public companies face in light of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.” Yes, deregulation efforts are looking 15 years in reverse in its search for rules to cut and “freedoms” to restore.
Let’s not overlook the folly of the opposing camp (Democrats by any other name) who seem oblivious in understanding that not every societal and economic ill can be solved on the backs of over-regulated companies, their bottom lines bleeding as compliance costs rack up.
The Dodd-Frank Act was crafted by folks with no true understanding of the financial world they sought to shape. With rulemaking implemented with thousands of Federal Register pages, it isn’t a coffee table book—it is a coffee table itself.
The SEC has taken a much wiser path under the leadership of Mary Jo White and, more recently, Jay Clayton. White had the wise idea to reduce regulatory burden through analysis, launching a comprehensive review of the Commission’s Disclosure regime to balance the interests of both the regulated and protected. Clayton launched his tenure with a renewed focus on capital formation. We hope he continues the still unfinished disclosure review.
No good will come from arbitrarily pitting investor advocates against the business world. There are few benefits to be had dividing shareholders and the companies they invest in solely in the interest of partisan bragging rights.