Frank aims for financial overhaul by end of July

Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, is aiming to pass through his committee by the end of July sweeping legislation that would remake significant parts of the financial system.

The Obama administration is expected next week to unveil details of proposed changes to the nation's banking and financial systems and White House and Treasury officials have been meeting with industry lobbyists and representatives this week and last.

ADVERTISEMENT
On Tuesday, Frank laid out an ambitious timeline for passing a broad bill through his committee and for possibly bringing it to the House floor in July. The bill would include significant portions of an overhaul of the industry. Among the provisions Frank said could be included are new regulations on "systemic risk"; resolution authority to wind down non-bank institutions; executive compensation regulations; investor protection legislation; and a provision on risk retention.

"We have an increasing consensus on what. There is still discussion about who," Frank said.

Both issues will be the source of heavy lobbying battles and possibly also turf battles between the federal regulatory agencies.

The administration has discussed for several months granting the Federal Reserve new authority to oversee "systemic risk" and Frank has in the past supported the idea. Frank on Tuesday did not weigh in on which federal agency should gain new resolution authority, or on several specifics about the bill he is considering. The committee is beginning a round of hearings next week, including one on executive compensation.

Frank cast doubt on several possible changes to the industry that have been under discussion, according to industry sources, including a consolidation of the nation's four banking regulators into one and a possible merger of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).

"I dont think it's realistic," Frank said of a merger between SEC and CFTC. "There are strongly entrenched interests that have been working with each of them and would resist being subsumed into the other."

Frank said that a consolidation of the banking regulators is "not remotely possible."

Left unclear is whether there will be a significant component in the bill on insurance industry issues. There has been a longstanding battle over whether to set up an optional federal charter for insurance firms. Frank said the issue is "not regulatory reform. But it's an important issue."