Earlier this week the US Department of Treasury released its self-commissioned study, the “Blueprint for a Modernized Financial Regulatory Structure.” In part in response to the current financial crises of lenders and investment banks, the Department of Treasury has proposed an overhaul of the way the federal government regulates securities, banks, investment banks, and the various services they offer.

One theme of the Blueprint is to give more power to the Federal Reserve, especially in the context of regulating banks and investment banks. Some commentators are predicting that investment banks will eventually have to fully report all direct and indirect holdings of securities, including the amount and the basic characteristics.

The Blueprint is unclear on whether increased power for the Federal Reserve means decreased power for the SEC, but some are predicting as much. What is clear is that the Blueprint calls for some significant changes to how the SEC operates, including the following:

  • Create “core principles” to apply to securities clearing agencies and exchanges;
  • Make it easier for securities products to be approved;
  • Expand registration of investment companies, including registration of new “global” investment companies; and,
  • the most significant: merge with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission

Most politicians predict the Blueprint will not become law and even Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has called it “aspirational.”

Interestingly, the Blueprint calls for increased regulation across the board—presumably because market participants have failed to regulate themselves in the form of how they value their assets and liabilities—and at the same time calls for streamlining the rule-making process of self-regulatory organizations to allow US markets to remain competitive worldwide.