LIANE HANSEN, Host:
NPR's Jim Zarroli reports.
JIM ZARROLI: Timothy Ryan heads the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association and he knows a thing or two about the way laws get written. Ryan was involved in the savings and loan bailout in the late '80s, and, he says, there has never been anything like the task facing regulators over the next couple of years.
ZARROLI: So, we're now going to go into this unprecedented time period. There is no time in the United States history where we have had this type of legislative change and this number of regulatory requirements placed on these agencies.
ZARROLI: Attorney Seth Grosshandler of the law firm Cleary Gottlieb Steen and Hamilton points to another. The bill allows U.S. regulators to dismantle troubled financial institutions and dispose of their assets. But what about those company's foreign subsidiaries?
ZARROLI: That's the really thorny issue, and this legislation doesn't really deal with it. It puts it into a study. Right? But, I mean, everyone knows this is no secret. The regulators know that the cross-border aspects are very, very important to figure out what to do, but that's not a quick thing.
ZARROLI: For big Wall Street firms, there is a lot of money involved. Charles Johnston is president of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney. He says this is a new era for the financial markets. U.S. regulators have made clear that companies can still sell the same products to their investors but they have to be more transparent.
ZARROLI: There's got to be more accountability, and the real unanswered question is: what's the definition of that accountability? And it's too early to tell, but that's why the industry's got to have a voice in this and try to be a good partner and get to the right outcome for both our clients and for the industry.
ZARROLI: Tim Ryan of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association says it's just too soon to tell what will happen.
ZARROLI: It's unprecedented, so no one knows how long it's going to take. The statute gives them requirements, time requirements - most of them are about 18 months - to finalize this. Having had some experience in this area, it will not surprise me if this is pushed out a lot longer.
ZARROLI: Jim Zarroli, NPR News.
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