After Five Years, Dodd-Frank Is a Failure

obama-signs-dodd-frank

Before Dodd-Frank’s passage, former Sen. Chris Dodd said that ‘no one will know until this is actually in place how it works.’ Today we know. 

House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling writes: Tuesday will mark five years since President Obama’s signing of the Dodd-Frank law, the most sweeping rewrite of the country’s financial laws since the New Deal. Mr. Obama told the country that the bankerlegislation would “lift our economy.” The statute itself declared that it would “end too big to fail” and “promote financial stability.”

“What is most disturbing about Dodd-Frank is the authority it gives bureaucrats to control huge swaths of the economy.”

None of that has come to pass. Too-big-to-fail institutions have not disappeared. Big banks are bigger, small banks are fewer, and the financial system is less stable. Meanwhile, the economy remains in the doldrums.

Dodd-Frank was based on the premise that the financial crisis was the result of deregulation. Yet George Mason University’s Mercatus Center reports that regulatory restrictions on financial services grew every year between 1999-2008. It wasn’t deregulation that caused the crisis, it was dumb regulation.

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The law has crushed small banks, restricted access to credit, and planted the seeds of financial instability. 

“Oversight? CFPB funding is not subject to congressional appropriations, and Dodd-Frank requires courts to grant the bureau deference regarding its interpretation of federal consumer-financial law.”

Among the dumbest were Washington’s affordable-housing mandates, beginning in 1977, that led to a loosening of underwriting standards and put people into homes they couldn’t afford. The Federal Reserve played its part in the 2008 financial crisis by keeping interest rates too low for too long, inflating the housing bubble. Washington not only failed to prevent the crisis, it led us into it.

“Before Dodd-Frank, 75% of banks offered free checking. Two years after it passed, only 39% did so—a trend various scholars have attributed to Dodd-Frank’s ‘Durbin amendment,’ which imposed price controls on the fee paid by retailers when consumers use a debit card. Bank fees have also increased due to Dodd-Frank, leading to a rise of the unbanked and underbanked among low- and moderate-income Americans.”

Dodd-Frank was supposedly aimed at Wall Street, but it hit Main Street hard. Community financial institutions, which make the bulk of small business loans, are overwhelmed by the law’s complexity. Government figures indicate that the country is losing on average one community bank or credit union a day.

“Because of Dodd-Frank, financial markets will have less capacity to deal with shocks and are more likely to seize up in a panic. Many economists believe this could be the source of the next financial crisis.”

Before Dodd-Frank, 75% of banks offered free checking. Two years after it passed, only 39% did so—a trend various scholars have attributed to Dodd-Frank’s “Durbin amendment,” which imposed price controls on the fee paid by retailers when consumers use a debit card. Bank fees have also increased due to Dodd-Frank, leading to a rise of the unbanked and underbanked among low- and moderate-income Americans. Read the rest of this entry »


That Other Mega-Legislation: Remember the Dodd-Frank Act?

ILLUSTRATIONS BY ARNOLD ROTH

ILLUSTRATIONS BY ARNOLD ROTH

Too Convoluted to Succeed 

Nicole Gelinas writes:  Five years ago this September, the Lehman Brothers investment bank collapsed. Markets around the world froze until Western governments devised a massive bailout plan that kept investors from pulling trillions out of the global financial system and precipitating a worldwide depression. The financial crisis helped propel Barack Obama to the presidency. In his inaugural address, Obama said that the crisis was a reminder that “without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control.” After the February 2009 stimulus law and the March 2010 “Obamacare” health-insurance overhaul, the Dodd-Frank financial-reform act of July 2010—meant to sharpen the vision of that “watchful eye”—became Obama’s third signature legislative victory. “The American people will never again be asked to foot the bill for Wall Street’s mistakes,” Obama said as he signed the bill into law. “There will be no more tax-funded bailouts—period.” To applause, he added that “there will be new rules to make clear that no firm is somehow protected because it is ‘too big to fail.’ ”

But three years later, “too big to fail” lives on. “There’s a growing bipartisan consensus that the Dodd-Frank Act regrettably did not end the ‘too-big-to-fail’ phenomenon or its consequent bailouts,” Texas congressman Jeb Hensarling, head of the House financial-services committee, said just before Dodd-Frank’s third anniversary this summer. Republicans aren’t the only ones saying so. Elizabeth Warren, the new Democratic senator from Massachusetts, recently introduced her own “end too big to fail” bill, implicitly suggesting that Dodd-Frank did not fix the problem. At one congressional hearing after another, independent expert witnesses, as well as top officials from the Obama administration, have admitted that there is still no structure in place that would allow large financial institutions to go under without risking an economic meltdown. What went wrong with Dodd-Frank, and how can the problems be fixed? Read the rest of this entry »