The Dodd-Frank Act (fully known as the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act) is a United States federal law that places regulation of the financial industry in the hands of the government. The legislation, which was enacted in July 2010, created financial regulatory processes to limit risk by enforcing transparency and accountability.
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Because the Great Recession of the late 2000s was due in part to low regulation and high reliance on large banks, one of the main goals of the Dodd-Frank Act was to subject banks to more stringent regulation. The Act created the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) to address persistent issues affecting the financial industry and prevent another recession.
By keeping the banking system under a closer watch, the Act seeks to eliminate the need for future taxpayer-funded bailouts. To both ensure cooperation by financial insiders and fight corruption in the financial industry, the Dodd-Frank Act contains a whistleblowing provision to encourage those with original information about security violations to report them to the government. Whistleblowers receive a financial reward.
The Dodd-Frank Act followed a number of financial regulation bills passed by Congress to protect consumers, including the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in 2002 and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act in 1999. Dodd-Frank created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to protect consumers from large, unregulated banks and consolidate the consumer protection responsibilities of a number of existing bureaus, including the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the National Credit Union Administration and the Federal Trade Commission.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau works with regulators in large banks to prevent risky business practices that ultimately hurt consumers. In addition to regulatory controls, the CFPB provides consumers with access to truthful information about mortgages and credit scores along with a 24-hour, toll-free consumer hotline to report issues with financial services. Other provisions of Dodd-Frank include the creation of the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC), which is tasked with monitoring the financial stability of large companies whose failure would negatively impact the United States economy and the Volcker Rule, which requires financial institutions to separate their investment and commercial functions.
Proponents of Dodd-Frank believe the act prevents the United States economy from experiencing a crisis like that of 2008 and protects consumers from many of the abuses that contributed to that crisis. Detractors believe the compliance burdens the legislation creates makes it difficult for U.S. companies to compete with foreign counterparts. In February of 2017, President Trump issued an executive order that directed regulators to review provisions put in place by the Dodd-Frank Act and submit a report on potential regulatory and legislative reforms.
Economist Ben Bernanke provides an overview of the Dodd-Frank Act.