When observers and experts first began throwing around the "recession" word, everyone agreed that regulatory reform would be necessary -- especially in the financial sector. Speculation began that a complete overhaul of the financial regulatory structure was the way to go. Indeed, that's what former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson proposed before he left the post.
There was talk of combining the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Some thought the Federal Reserve would take on oversight of the mortgage industry and thus rise to the top of the financial regulatory heap.
Now that the country's deep into the recession, however, and the new administration's key people are in place, not much is happening. Well, let me rephrase that. A lot has happened.
Businesses in the mortgage, banking and auto industries have received federal bailout funds, and the money came with restrictions as to its use and repayment. Congress has passed new requirements for credit card companies. The SEC has cracked down on fraud enforcement; the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board has tweaked accounting rules. Most recently, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a case arguing against the constitutionality of the PCAOB.
But in terms of complete overhaul, or even creating new regulators, efforts appear to be at a standstill. CFO.com suggests resistance from regulators and legislators is to blame, saying simply: "[T]he plans taking shape face resistance, partly from the bankers they will shackle but even more from regulators and lawmakers..."