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Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.) this week joined the generations of dreamers who have advocated for eliminating the nation's muddle of bank regulators, arguing that a single agency would be more efficient and would end the ability of banks to choose the most lenient supervisor.
"The financial crisis," Dodd said Tuesday, "exposed a financial regulatory structure that was the product of historic accidents, one after another, over the past 80 years, created piece by piece over decades, with little thought given to how it would function as a whole and unable to prevent threats to our economic security."
But Dodd confronts a broad range of critics including bankers, regulators and fellow legislators who warn that his plan overlooks the strengths of the current patchwork and ignores the potential downsides of consolidation.
They argue that community banks and international behemoths need different kinds of oversight. They also note that the various agencies possess meaningfully different perspectives. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., for example, tends to look out for the interests of smaller banks, while the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency traditionally has been mindful of the concerns of larger institutions.