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Wall St reform goes to Obama for signing

Jul 16 2010 08:26

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Washington - The US Congress on Thursday approved the broadest overhaul of financial rules since the Great Depression and sent it to President Barack Obama to sign into law.

By a vote of 60 to 39, the Senate gave final approval to a sweeping measure that tightens regulations across the financial industry in an effort to avoid a repeat of the 2007 to 2009 financial crisis.

Obama will likely sign the bill into law next week, the White House said.

The legislation, which had been opposed by banks, leaves few corners of the financial industry untouched. It establishes new consumer protections, gives regulators greater power to dismantle troubled firms, and limits a range of risky trading activities by banks in a way that would curb their profits.

The Senate vote caps more than a year of legislative effort after Obama proposed reforms in June 2009. The House of Representatives approved it last month.

With Republicans poised for big gains in the November congressional elections, Democrats are eager to show voters that they have reined in an industry that dragged the economy into its deepest recession in 70 years.

"I regret I can't give you your job back, restore that foreclosed home, put retirement monies back in your account," said Democratic Senator Christopher Dodd, one of the bill's chief authors. "What I can do is to see to it that we never, ever again go through what this nation has been through."

Along with the health-care overhaul, Democrats can now point to two far-reaching reform efforts they passed that will likely shape American society for generations.

It is not clear whether voters will be impressed.

The bill has also won Democrats few friends on Wall Street as wealthy donors have started to steer more campaign contributions to Republicans.

Financial markets failed to show any reaction on Thursday. Investors said the passage of the bill was already priced into banks' share prices.

Bank stocks have followed the overall market lower since April, weighed down by poor US economic data and the belief that more regulation could crimp profits down the road.

 - Reuters

barack obama  |  wall street reform
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