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Dodd-Frank Law May Hinder Crisis Response by Policy Makers

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and fellow U.S. policy makers may find themselves hampered in restoring financial stability should the European debt crisis spread to America.

The Dodd-Frank legislation passed last year prohibits the Fed from engaging in rescues of individual financial firms, such as it did with Bear Stearns Cos. and American International Group Inc. during the 2008 financial crisis. Lawmakers also banned the Treasury Department from again using an emergency reserve program to backstop money market funds. And the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. now has to get Congressional approval before it can guarantee senior debt issued by banks.