The Fed Controls the Consumer Protection Agency's Budget

At this point people are still combing through the fine print of Senator Dodd's financial reform bill to determine all its ramifications, however one point is very clear in assessing the independence of the new Consumer Financial Products Protection Agency. The Fed will have control over the agency's budget. This means that if the Fed believes that the agency is causing too much trouble to the financial industry, it would have the power to squeeze its budget so that it would become less troublesome.

It is also worth noting in this context that the Fed sets its own budget. (It gets its money the old-fashioned way: it prints it.) Every year the Fed sends a budget showing its major budget lines to Congress. This is purely informational, Congress does not approve the budget. Given the way Dodd proposes to set it up, if the Fed were to decide to squeeze the new agency Congress would have no immediate recourse.

This fact should be mentioned in news coverage of the issue.

--Dean Baker

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