The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the most sweeping financial law enacted since the Great Depression, is supposed to protect investors and shield the economy from bubbles and speculation. Its promise is hard to judge; many detailed rules are still being drafted. What can be said with confidence is that Dodd-Frank has been a boon for lobbyists.
This spring a scrum of them is grappling over a relatively obscure provision known as Section 1504. Bill Gates, George Soros, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Senator Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) have endorsed the proviso. Big Oil and mining corporations are determined to undo it. At issue is a problem not typically associated with Wall Street reform: how to help citizens in poor countries stop their leaders from stealing money earned from oil and mineral sales.