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Saturday, April 17, 2021

New trends in how the government’s eating its own dog food

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In the eyes of many on Wall Street, federal agency officials will be forced to work overtime to keep up with a barrage of recommendations to improve the U.S. market.

Dozens of new laws, regulations and directives make their way through Congress every year, requiring agencies to craft and implement them, even if they don’t produce the results they seek. Over the past week, a combination of high-profile and less-high-profile measures have moved through Washington.

The company that makes credit scores for consumers has gained approval from the Federal Trade Commission to launch a voluntary program to disclose more detail about how much borrowers owe on their loans. That has raised alarms that the government is asserting a growing role in evaluating lending. And the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has won authority from Congress to publish rules for mortgages and car loans. Other agency actions to ease lending restrictions have been well-known.

President Trump’s own blueprints for deregulation have come to fruition. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which oversees financial markets, has thrown its support behind Trump’s long-held desire to downgrade “swaps” from regulated to lightly regulated products. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has rolled back some rules for payday lenders and the Securities and Exchange Commission has waived its own administrative rules on reporting broker-dealers. And Senate and House Republicans have taken up the administration’s lead on raising the financial risks that banks are allowed to take.

But while the White House is at the heart of these important developments, it’s difficult to measure their impact on Wall Street. To meet the president’s demand for deregulation, the government has scrambled to move legislation or regulations through the legislative and regulatory systems.

“What we have to do is build a new infrastructure,” said Navin Nayak, the director of research at the investment bank Evercore ISI. “It’s going to be both time consuming and complex, but it’s something that needs to be done.”

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