Wall Street Braces for biggest overhaul since Great Depression.

The following is an excerpt from this article at BusinessWeek.com today:

“While Wall Street faces the biggest overhaul of its regulatory structure since the Great Depression (and since the often decried Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 -these parenthese added by blogger, not original to article), analysts are already wondering if the plan to be announced by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson on Monday would help prevent the kind of risky investments that led to the near-collapse of Bear Stearns Cos.

The plan maps out a course for broader oversight of the nation’s financial markets by consolidating power into the Federal Reserve. It will eliminate overlapping state and federal regulators and give the central bank an expanded role in looking at the books of investment banks and brokerages.

What remains unclear is exactly how much the Fed would be able to control Wall Street’s freewheeling investment banks — the banks including Bear Stearns that have lost billions of dollars over the past six months from buying risky mortgage-backed securities. While the proposal will for the first time impose regulation of hedge funds and private equity firms, some say it is lacking the kind of muscle to curb the Street’s appetite for risk.

“This is a good start for the basis of discussion,” said Peter Morici, a business professor at the University of Maryland and former chief economist of the U.S. Trade Commission. “But, this is bank reform written by an investment banker. … There’s nothing so far to improve the conduct of business on Wall Street to avoid another crisis.”

footnote: from Wikipedia: “Sarbox” (Sarbanes-Oxley); is a United States federal law enacted on July 30, 2002 in response to a number of major corporate and accounting scandals including those affecting Enron, Tyco International, Adelphia, Peregrine Systems and WorldCom. These scandals, which cost investors billions of dollars when the share prices of the affected companies collapsed, shook public confidence in the nation’s securities markets. Named after sponsors Senator Paul Sarbanes (DMD) and Representative Michael G. Oxley (ROH), the Act was approved by the House by a vote of 423-3 and by the Senate 99-0. President George W. Bush signed it into law, stating it included “the most far-reaching reforms of American business practices since the time of Franklin D. Roosevelt.”[1]

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