Completing historic financial reform legislation should be at the top of Congress' to-do list as it gets back to work this week. Make that its hurry-up-and-get-it-done-already list.
Uncertainty is the enemy of financial activity. With sweeping new regulation in the offing, many investors are no doubt sitting on their hands, waiting to see exactly what the new rules will be. Ending that uncertainty should give the sluggish economy a much-needed jolt.
Almost two years after the near collapse of the global financial system sent the economy into a terrifying tailspin, regulatory reform - intended to head off similar woes in the future - is in the homestretch. The House passed its bill in December; the Senate last month. Congressional negotiators will begin work this week to merge the two. President Barack Obama is pushing for an agreement before June 26, when officials from the world's 20 leading economies gather in Toronto.
The most contentious issue for negotiators is whether giant banks should be forced to spin off operations that trade derivatives, like those complex mortgage-backed securities at the core of the financial crisis. The Senate bill would require the spinoff, the House bill wouldn't. The House got this one right. Cleaving those investment arms would hurt the competitiveness of U.S. banks and cost New York, where many are located.
Regulatory reform is vital. So is getting it done posthaste. hN