As we said at the beginning of 2021, President Biden’s first term is going to be over before you know it and one quarter of it already is. While much has been accomplished, too many of administration’s initiatives and nominees have languished in the Senate, mostly due to obstruction unrelated to the merits. Regardless of the reasons, a whole year of opportunities is already behind us, but there are still three years left.
While it looks like legislative gridlock is mostly going to continue—and many are predicting it will get worse after the midterms this Fall—the good news is that until next inauguration day—three full years away—the regulatory agencies will remain under the control of this President’s nominees or appointees. That is a huge opportunity: the federal regulatory agencies have statutory mandates and significant authority to address many of the challenges and priorities of the American people. That includes promoting the economic security and prosperity of the American people, which the financial regulatory agencies are uniquely positioned to do.
First and foremost, if we are going to have a thriving economy that generates wealth for the vast majority of Americans, we must have a financial system that supports the real, productive economy and is focused on wealth creation rather than wealth extraction. That requires strong, robust, and efficient markets, but they are only possible if we have equally strong, robust, and efficient rules that:
- Establish a level playing field;
- Enable fair competition, including entry by competitors;
- Enforce a baseline of fair dealing;
- Reduce inequality and racial injustice;
- Police financial firms and market participants;
- Punish and deter predators and lawbreakers; and
- Engender consumer and investor confidence.
How does all that get done? By seizing the opportunities that are available at the regulatory agencies over the next three years.
But that means acting now to win later. That requires a three-year plan—not setting a six or 12-month horizon, which is too often the focus of too many in Washington D.C. It also means focusing on a regulatory, not legislative agenda. For that to be successful, however, we must all think longer term than usual: regulatory actions and rulemakings take years and often more with the inevitable industry litigation.
More good news is that lots of good work is already getting done. Under Chair Gary Gensler, the SEC is actively pursuing an important, multi-faceted agenda to protect investors and markets while promoting capital formation. The recently confirmed CFPB Director, Rohit Chopra, and CFTC Chairman, Rostin Behnam, are both making fast starts and focused on issues important to the American people. With the President’s recently nominated slate of candidates for the Federal Reserve Board, we hope and expect the same across the banking agencies.
With that leadership, if we focus with a three-year horizon on the right rules and activities, we will achieve our goal of better banks and financial firms, which will lead to better businesses, better jobs, better economic growth, better lives, better communities, and, yes, better markets.