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Major regulators begin to move under Dodd-Frank

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The Senate Banking Committee heard testimony Thursday from key regulators on how they will implement the Dodd-Frank Act to future rulemaking. Treasury Deputy Secretary Neal Wolin said implementing the law signed in July will be complex. The bulk of the initial work at the Treasury has been to set up different groups such as the Financial Stability Oversight Council, which will hold its first meeting Friday, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to be guided by Elizabeth Warren. The CFPB will oversee seven existing regulators on July 21, 2011, under Dodd-Frank. Those include the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Office of Thrift Supervision, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Federal Reserve Bank, the Federal Trade Commission and the National Credit Union Administration. It will be under the Council that new rulemaking from the different regulators will be made in concert with one another, at least as hoped in the design of Dodd-Frank. "I think this council is very important given overlapping responsibilities," said Ben Bernanke, head of the Federal Reserve. John Walsh, acting Comptroller of the Currency, said the key issue will be determining systemic risk and mapping that risk across the entire financial landscape. Beyond the efforts of these regulators as a new union, individual offices have many policy decisions ahead of them under Dodd-Frank. Bernanke testified that the Fed will complete 50 rules and sets of formal guidelines to go with roughly 250 projects associated with implementing the Act. Sheila Bair, chairman of the FDIC, said it is authorized to write 44 new rules, 18 of which are discretionary. These include new enforcement authorities, reporting requirements and other actions. "Implementation will require extensive coordination among the regulatory agencies and will fundamentally change the way we regulate large complex financial institutions," Bair said. Mary Shapiro, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, said it will lay out more than 100 new provisions within one year. Six, which approach new policies in the securities markets and the supervision of golden parachutes, are coming as soon as October with more on the way in November. As for how the Council of regulators will address future bailouts, Bernanke said Dodd-Frank has limited its ability to lend to an individual firm. "Eliminating that authority was entirely appropriate when setting up a regime to create a proper wind-down of those firms," Bernanke said. "We want to have market discipline. We want firms to know that they can fail and keep them from taking excessive risks." Write to Jon Prior.

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