Levin urges SEC to move quicker on Dodd-Frank rules

Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) has a message for the Securities and Exchange Commission: Pick up the pace.

Levin said in a statement Thursday that the financial regulator should “stop procrastinating” when it comes to writing rules implementing key pieces of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law.

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“Four years after the law went on the books, the SEC still hasn’t finalized rules to stop financial firms from betting against their clients, ensure swap dealers have adequate capital, or cure the conflicts of interest undermining the reliability of credit ratings,” he said. “The SEC needs to stop procrastinating and get the job done.”

Levin is head of the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, where he has regularly pressed corporate executives and top Wall Street players on their practices and what role they played leading up to the financial crisis.

Levin’s comment was spurred by a speech delivered Thursday by SEC Commissioner Kara Stein, who said the SEC needs to wrap up rule-writing for Dodd-Frank and strengthen capital rules for brokerages.

Levin criticized the SEC as being the slowest of the regulators to adopt Dodd-Frank rules. There may be some truth to that; the law firm Davis Polk, which tracks the progress on implementing the law, found the SEC lagged behind other regulators when it came to writing rules. The SEC had 95 rule-making jobs under Dodd-Frank. As of the beginning of June, it had finalized 42 of them, and missed the deadline on another 41 (the deadlines for the remaining 12 have not yet arrived).

By comparison, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which had 60 Dodd-Frank rule-writing tasks, has finalized 50 of them and only missed deadlines for nine. And bank regulators had 135 rules to write, have finalized 70 and missed the deadline for 36.