Saying he wants a system where financial services institutions "compete on price and quality, not on tricks and not on traps," President Obama last Wednesday signed a financial overhaul bill some consider the most comprehensive legislation of its kind since the 1930s.
Although the credit union trade associations opposed the measure, mostly because of the provision allowing the Federal Reserve to regulate interchange fees, CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney attended the signing. NAFCU President/CEO Fred Becker was invited to attend but didn't because he was attending his group's annual conference in Chicago.
NCUA Chairman Debbie Matz, who supported the measure and worked with congressional leaders to craft parts of the 2,300-page bill, was there and praised the final product.
"Given the complexity and scope of the task and the volatile financial issues at stake, this new law is an accomplishment in which all Americans can take pride," she said in a statement. For consumers and the credit union industry, the reform affords important protections and enhancements that will lead to a stronger and safer financial landscape."
The bill creates a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, housed in the Fed, which has wide ranging power to write and enforce consumer rules. While all credit unions will have to comply with its rules, the CFPB will only enforce them at institutions with assets of $10 billion or more. Enforcement at all other institutions will be done by their primary regulator, such as the NCUA. Obama hasn't named a director of the CFPB, but three names mentioned are Harvard Law Professor Elizabeth Warren, who came up with the idea for the CFPB, Assistant Treasury Secretary Michael Barr and Justice Department official Gene Kimmelman.
The bill also makes the maximum coverage of $250,000 in insurance coverage on share deposits permanent and gives the NCUA chairman a seat on the panel that will determine whether certain troubled financial institutions should be deemed a systemic risk.