Power plays will start after Obama announces new rules


President Obama is set to unveil this week a plan for the most sweeping reorganization of financial-market supervision since the 1930s. Initially, consolidation was the theme of this makeover, but turf wars ended most of that initiative and when the dust settles we're likely to end up with the same number of regulatory agencies. But the rumors about which regulatory agency will have what powers under the new rules will finally be put to rest.

The only thing that's certain right now is that the final result will be a major realignment of power and authority among government agencies that set the rules for banking, lending and investing, as well as for consumer transactions involving credit cards, mortgages and mutual funds. Consumers might actually end up with a strong regulatory force and their own regulatory agency that focuses on their needs. The recent mortgage crisis partly evolved because no one was watching the backs of consumers and many types of exotic mortgages were allowed to flourish without proper scrutiny.