Sunday, May 23, 2010

Financial Market Reform Legislation Moves Ahead

With Senate passage of a second version of the financial markets regulatory legislation last week comes a prediction by Congressman Barney Frank that the conference committee will have a final markup very soon, and Congress will have a bill on President Obama’s oval office desk by Independence Day. If you are in the business of building houses and condominiums, it won’t matter which version of this bill comes out of conference committee, the legislation will put another brick on financing for your business. New rules on consumer lending will make it harder for home buyers to get mortgage loans, and this will keep the housing market in the doldrums for both new and existing homes and condos. New working capital for home builders is going to remain difficult to find because of this legislation.

Frank and his Senate counterpart Christopher Dodd have yet to release a timetable for conference committee action on the bills. The principal difference between House and Senate version of the measure is the Senate requirement that banks spin off their financial derivatives business into separately capitalized business units. Lobbying activity respecting this legislation will surely intensify in the coming weeks. So far in the 2009 and the first quarter of 2010 business and consumer groups have spent $1.33 billion in lobbying efforts regarding this bill, with 3,000 lobbyists contacting our 100 Senators and 435 Representatives, making a ratio of more than five and a half lobbyists for every politician in Congress.
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