America’s financial regulatory system developed piecemeal. Beginning just after the Civil War, Congress has added and subtracted agencies and departments in response to new crises and economic developments. A patchwork of regulatory oversight exists today; about a dozen regulatory bodies oversee U.S. markets through a fragmented regulatory system—one that also includes many non-governmental and international organizations that influence industry standards.
The 2008 financial crisis created unprecedented regulatory challenges. Congress and the Obama Administration responded with new legislation and executive action, including the enactment of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and a series of regulatory proposals and actions from the Treasury Department. One of the architects of the latest set of financial reforms was Paul Volcker, the former Federal Reserve chairman who has served as chairman of the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board since the crisis. Recently, Volcker has called for still further action to strengthen the regulatory system as the economy continues to rebound.