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Experts Weigh in on the Dodd-Frank Act and Regulatory Reform

On October 28, Cornell Law School hosted an all-day conference in New York City on issues facing financial regulatory reform following passage of the Dodd-Frank Act. The conference featured luminaries from the worlds of law, finance, government, and academia, as well as forty law students who travelled from the Ithaca campus. The speakers’ viewpoints often clashed, but were candidly discussed in a discourse that reflected the conference’s academic setting.


 

Raymond Minella ’74, Executive Director of the Clarke Business Law Institute, and Brian Hogue ’12, Editor-in-Chief of the Cornell Law Review, opened the conference. Commissioner Troy A. Paredes of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission was the first speaker. He discussed challenges that face the SEC, including difficulties in undertaking the cost/benefit analysis it must conduct when introducing new regulation.

Commissioner Paredes was followed by an impressive array of speakers and panelists, including (in order of presentation):

  • John C. Coffee Jr., Adolf A. Berle Professor of Law, Columbia Law School
  • Jeffrey Siegel ’03, Senior Counsel, Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs
  • Oren Bar-Gill, Professor of Law, and Ryan Bubb, Assistant Professor of Law, New York University School of Law
  • James A. Huizinga, Partner, Sidley Austin LLP
  • Leonard (Len) J. Kennedy ’77, General Counsel, and Patricia A. McCoy, Assistant Director for Mortgage and Home Equity Markets, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
  • Robert J. Ingato ’85, Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary, CIT Group Inc.
  • Lynn A. Stout, Paul Hastings Distinguished Professor of Corporate and Securities Law, UCLA School of Law
  • Thomas A. Russo ’69, Executive Vice President and General Counsel, American International Group, Inc.
  • Charles K. Whitehead, Professor of Law, Cornell Law School
  • James J. Hill ’91, Managing Director and Global Credit Derivatives Officer, Morgan Stanley & Co. Incorporated
  • Randall S. Thomas, John S. Beasley II Professor of Law and Business, Vanderbilt Law School
  • Arthur M. Siskind ’62, Director and Senior Advisor to the Chairman, News Corporation
  • Edward F. Greene, Partner, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP
  • Roberta Romano, Sterling Professor of Law, Yale Law School

Mark Zandi, Chief Economist and Co-founder of Moody’s Economy.com, gave the luncheon address. He argued that, while Dodd-Frank may not be a slam-dunk, financial regulatory reforms were likely to be a net-plus in the long run.

Panel moderators included Cornell Law Professor Robert Hockett, as well as law students Mark Chen ’12 and Paul Swanson ’12. Papers presented at the conference will be published in a forthcoming issue of the Cornell Law Review.

While not everyone agreed on Dodd-Frank’s merits, most conceded that the outcome of the Act will depend on implementation and administration.

It was noted that 82 percent of Americans support Wall Street reform, and most participants at the conference agreed that some change was necessary. Nevertheless, it was emphasized, reform is more a marathon than a sprint – with no easy answers, no quick solutions, and no silver bullets. As Minella commented, “There are more pages in the table of contents of the Dodd-Frank Act than comprise the ’33 and ’34 Acts combined, under which the securities industry operated for the better part of 70 years. This conference represented a first step in understanding the changes wrought by this seminal piece of legislation.”

Cornell Law Professor Charles Whitehead observed, “The conference built on the Law School’s neutral forum as a place where experts can discuss important topics of pressing concern. Our speakers and panelists were second-to-none, and the level of engagement with students and other audience members was exceptional. Thank you to everyone for your participation and support. We look forward to future opportunities to bring together the same high level of expertise in other areas of interest.”