Counting Costs Slows Dodd-Frank

Rule-making at near-halt as business lobbyists wield cudgel of cost-benefit analysis.

Business lobbyists and Republican lawmakers who failed to stop the Dodd-Frank Act from becoming law have managed to put the brakes on many of its provisions a second way: cost-benefit analysis.

A series of legal challenges from business groups against the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission ended in a federal court ruling last year that the agency didn’t adequately analyze the cost of a new rule. In the months since, the agency’s rule-making has ground to a near-halt, with just 24 SEC economists working full-time to provide cost-benefit analyses for dozens of proposed policies, including 28 unfinished Dodd-Frank rules.

New Legislation

Senator David Vitter, a Louisiana Republican, introduced legislation April 26 that would require the SEC to study the cost of its proposals. The bill is similar to one that Garrett is shepherding through the House.

Hard to Monetize

“The task of quantifying costs is difficult but the task of quantifying benefits is very much more difficult because they are often very, very hard to put a dollar number on to monetize,” she said during the April 17 hearing. “Our challenge is to do the best we can.”

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