Snore and fleece

The US Financial Reform Bill is too long

The US Senate has started to debate the Financial Reform bill. This bill proposes the most sweeping changes to US (and, therefore, global) financial markets regulatory practices since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

So one might think this an extremely important bill, right? So all the Senators have read it? Dream on!

The bill presented to the Senate is 1,300 pages long. How many people will read all of it? And even those few souls who do manage to read all the way through, will they really digest it, thoroughly, all of it? Of course they won’t.

So here we have what is possibly the most important piece of legislation relating to financial services for decades, and nobody fully understands it. Isn’t that frightening?

Perhaps in clauses hundreds of pages apart there are disparities that will keep lawyers employed for years.

In addition to its length, another problem is the breadth of the subject matter. Whilst all of the bill relates to financial markets in the broadest sense of the word, there are sections that are barely related to each other. A key risk here is that concessions and watering-down will be agreed in one section in order to gain support for a completely unrelated section. So, for example, the agreement to the derivatives section might affect regulation of deposits, or comments on naked insurance might impact international wire safeguards. These are just possible examples, the Vox Sapiens team hasn’t read the bill.

The US has an opportunity to show real leadership to the world here. It should cut the bill up into smaller sections that allow proper understanding of the consequences of each clause.

As Tolstoy said: “There is no greatness where there is not simplicity.” Is there greatness in this bill?

Let us hope that debating this bill doesn’t encourage many Senators to snore so that others can fleece us.

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