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GAO is Unable to Quantify Costs and Benefits of Dodd-Frank

by   |   February 15, 2013

The GAO recently published a study in which it reviewed empirical and other studies on the impacts of financial crises and the Dodd-Frank reforms, as well as congressional testimonies, comment letters, and other public statements by federal regulators, industry representatives, and others.  Among other things, the study found:

  • While the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act’s reforms could enhance the stability of the U.S. financial system and provide other benefits, the extent to which such benefits materialize will depend on many factors whose effects are difficult to predict.
  • The Dodd-Frank Act imposes compliance and other costs on financial institutions and restricts their business activities in ways that may affect the provision of financial products and services. While regulators and others have collected some data on these costs, no comprehensive data exist.
  • Financial institutions may pass increased costs on to their customers. For example, banks could charge more for their loans or other services, which could reduce economic growth. Although certain costs, such as paperwork costs, can be quantified, other costs, such as the Act’s impact on the economy, cannot be easily quantified. Studies have estimated the economic impact of certain of the Act’s reforms, but their results vary widely and depend on key assumptions.

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