Barney Frank’s Financial Legacy: the Dodd-Frank Act

by Lindsay Brown

Nearing the end of his 32nd year in Congress, Barney Frank, 71, announced today that he will not run for a 17th term as a Representative for the state of Massachusettes. Along with championing gay rights, Frank also spearheaded the writing of a new financial reform act which is aiming to better safeguard American people from predatory lending and unfair Wall Street greed.

Barney Frank Text BoxIn response to the financial crisis which began in September of 2008, Rep.Frank introduced the legislation along with former Senator Chris Dodd, of Connecticut. The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, also known as the Financial Reform Bill, was passed in June of 2010 and signed into law by President Obama the next month.

However, implementing the new financial reform bill is proving to be a complicated process. Traditional economic terms, as well as new terms, have yet to be defined by the appropriate government agencies.

For example, Title VII of the Dodd-Frank Act is called the Wall Street Transparency and Accountability Act. It repeals prior laws which allowed derivative traders to be exempt from government regulation for certain security-based “swaps,” transactions that include a derivative born from nine or fewer securities. These transactions played a major role in causing many banks to fail.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission, along with the Federal Reserve, are still in the process of defining swap related terms that appear in Title VII, as well as terms found in the Commodity Exchange Act of 1936 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.

After Frank leaves, the next Chair of the House Financial Services Committee will continue to work with government agencies as they refine the details of the bill. Meanwhile, Barney Frank will remain engaged in public advocacy and may even return to his pursuit of a PhD in Government from Harvard.



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