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Economics & Policy

A New Regulatory Map

After weeks of fierce wrangling, and weeks of attendant leaks, the Obama Administration's 85-page proposal to redraw financial regulation contained few surprises when the President unveiled it on June 17. But it will affect nearly every party with an interest in the finance game. The main elements: a new consumer-protection agency to police credit cards and mortgages; tougher capital standards and a merger of two regulators for banks; a new role, with new powers, for the Federal Reserve in monitoring giant financial companies of all kinds; and of course, new rules to allow more supervision of derivatives, hedge funds, private-equity firms, and other largely unregulated corners of the market. Consumer advocates celebrated the proposals as rolling back years of deregulation and vowed a campaign to support or even strengthen them, organizing a new outfit they dubbed Americans for Financial Reform. Industry groups put a good face on the mix, paying homage to the Administration's goals while promising stiff resistance to key provisions. Among the most bothersome for business: the stand-alone consumer agency and rules requiring firms to keep a stake in loans they package and resell; both are seen as threatening profits and innovation.

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