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Fed’s Lockhart Urges Stability, Limits on Reform Costs

Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta President Dennis Lockhart said regulators need to reform the U.S. financial system to ensure it is safer without imposing too great a cost on consumers and businesses.

A successful financial overhaul “would be a resilient financial system with substantially reduced systemic risks and reduced overall risk of financial instability,” Lockhart said today at an Atlanta Fed conference in Stone Mountain, Georgia. “And it would mean an effective and efficient supervisory-regulatory system” that serves consumers “while not imposing excessive costs of compliance on participants.”

Chairman Ben S. Bernanke at the conference yesterday called for new steps to curb “shadow banking” operating beyond standard oversight, including money market funds. Following the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. in 2008, Bernanke flooded the financial system with liquidity by opening facilities that provided credit to money market funds, primary dealers, commercial paper markets, banks and other borrowers.

“Almost two years after the Dodd-Frank act became law, many rules have not yet been written so much of the detailed work still lies ahead,” Lockhart said, referring to the law intended to reform banks and financial firms in response to the crisis. “The details of the rules will influence the structure of the firms” and the financial sector overall.

Lockhart didn’t comment on the U.S. economy in his remarks, other than to observe the past financial crisis caused a “deep and painful recession.”

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