November 12, 2006
A Single Financial Regulator?
Posted by Gordon Smith

When Elizabeth Brown signed off from her guest blogging stint last spring, she linked to her article entitled E Pluribus Unum - Out of Many, One: Why the United States Needs a Single Financial Services Agency, where she argues in favor of a "single financial services regulator similar to the UK's Financial Services Authority." The idea seems to be catching on.

Last month, former SEC Chairman Harvey Pitt endorsed the idea at a town hall meeting hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Commission on the Regulation of U.S. Capital Markets in the 21st Century. Then, earlier this month, Charles Schumer and Michael Bloomberg published an editorial in the W$J, stating:

[W]hat lessons can we learn from other nations' regulatory systems? Currently, there are more than 10 federal, state and industry regulatory bodies in the U.S. The British have only one such body. Industry experts estimate that the gross financial regulatory costs to U.S. companies are 15 times higher than in Britain. Beyond cost savings, the British enjoy another advantage: While our regulatory bodies are often competing to be the toughest cop on the street, the British regulatory body seems to be more collaborative and solutions-oriented.

Today, I noticed that current SEC Chairman Christopher Cox has endorsed the potential merger of the oversight function of the National Association of Securities Dealers and the New York Stock Exchange, which are engaged in talks presently. It is a long stride between this initiative and the creation of the single financial services regulator proposed by Elizabeth, but I wouldn't be surprised if Barney Frank (the incoming Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee) is boning up on this issue.

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