The Dodd-Frank Act (the 2010 Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act) ), is not only alive at year five, but it has thrived. That's despite repeal and roll-back efforts and some sluggish regulators (only 65 percent of the 400 rules are complete, 20 percent haven't been publicly proposed). It's a wonder Dodd-Frank is still standing. That is, until we recall why it was needed.
The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC), established in the wake of the 2008, determined there were two causes—two "things" if you will—that instigated the crash: asleep at the switch policy makers, and the captains of finance who took advantage of the circumstances. Recall, Dr. Seuss?
Things One and Two
Light markets, dark markets, big markets small…
red, green and black markets, they traded them all.
They bet over-the-counter and on exchange…
even some places that were weird and strange.
Brokers burned up the fiber, there was fire on their phones…
and then what they did was trade bundles of mortgage loans.
The guv'ment chose not to rock the boat, some said they were yellow…
perhaps they just didn't want to harsh their bureaucratic mellow.
And markets were rising with huge sums of new dough, doncha know…
and financial technology that just never went slow.
They traded and traded, it's what kept them alive…
and they did so, this trading, 24-7-365.
Thing One and Thing Two…what could possibly go wrong?
Well, go wrong it did and it led to a regulatory revolution in the name of Dodd-Frank, the largest change in financial reform in 80 years. The thriving results we can embrace five years later include: financial institutions (like "too big to fail" banks) are less systemically important to our economy than back in 2008; over-the-counter trading with zero oversight is now regulated; myriad rules put investors and consumers first when it comes to regulatory priorities; and since these are global markets, some foreign regulators are taking Dodd-Frank as their own template, which is particularly significant, given inter-related global markets.
Dodd-Frank gave regulators enormous long-term flexibility in how rules should be written and administered. This allows regulators to be forward-thinking and (if they take FCIC's advice) be more nimble and quick.
Sure, Dodd-Frank added some compliance and other burdens to financial-sector players, but for consumers and our economy, it deserves — at the least — some reverence for the really respectable job it has, and will continue, to do.
Commentary by Bart Chilton, former commissioner at the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Chilton is currently a senior policy advisor at the global law firm DLA Piper, and author of "Ponzimonium: How Scam Artists are Ripping Off America."