Dodd-Frank and the capital markets

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The Dodd-Frank Act does not directly address market regulation and trading issues; however, that by no means should lead one to conclude that the Act will not effect dramatic changes in the capital markets. Like any reform legislation, the Act targets the perceived capital markets related evils that presumably were root causes of the financial crisis. Underlying the various measures we discuss below are certain important prevailing views: that our financial institutions must maintain higher regulatory capital levels; that financial institutions should limit the use of leverage; that ‘simpler’ financial products with a higher equity content will be more loss absorbent during financial downturns; that certain financing activities, including proprietary trading, securities lending, derivatives and securitisation, are inherently ‘risky’; and that market participants should be subject to greater oversight, especially in respect of their interactions with retail investors. If this is the point of departure for regulatory reform, it is clear that the resulting legislation necessarily will affect the capital markets and the effects will be most acute for financial institutions. The Act also introduces a number of new agencies and regulators, including the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection. Financial institutions already are consumed with assessing the impact on their business operations of the Act. Significant resources will continue to be devoted to regulatory compliance for at least the next 12 to 24 months as many of the most important details of regulations will not be revealed until additional rule-making is undertaken or mandated studies are completed. This heightened regulatory focus will, of course, have its own special impact on capital markets activity.

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Morrison & Foerster LLP on:

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