US plan seeks fix to finance regulations

Obama hopes plan will restore confidence in the US financial system.

President Barack Obama unveiled a system-wide regulatory overhaul Wednesday, measures he hopes will restore confidence in the US financial system and prevent a repeat of the worst crisis to hit Wall Street in seven decades. The plan would give new powers to the Federal Reserve - the US central bank - to oversee the entire financial system and create a new consumer-protection agency to guard against the types of abuses that played a big role in the current crisis. Obama said his plan was "a sweeping overhaul of the financial regulatory system, a transformation on a scale not seen since the reforms that followed the Great Depression." He attributed much of the country's current problem to "a cascade of mistakes and missed opportunities" which happened over several decades. The 88-page white paper put forward by the administration will spark intense debate in Congress, with opponents already charging that it imposes too many restrictions that will harm the ability of US financial companies to compete in the global economy. The administration's plan details an effort to change a regulatory regime that Obama's economic team says was unable to cope with burgeoning new credit products and the increasing complexities of the marketplace. Obama wants Congress to make the plan law by the end of the year, an ambitious goal given that he also is pushing lawmakers to overhaul the nation's health-care system by October.