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Industry Repeats Itself: The Financial Reform Fight

A Public Citizen and Cry Wolf Project Report

July 12, 2011 — With the one year anniversary of the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act approaching – and the inevitable industry hand-wringing that will accompany the July 21 occasion – Public Citizen and the Cry Wolf Project decided to take a look back at what industry said during the last major financial reform era: the Great Depression.

The report, “Industry Repeats Itself," illustrates that industry’s foreboding predictions about the effects of the 1930s reforms were strikingly similar to today’s claims. These reforms created “monstrous” systems, an “impossible degree of regulation” and threatened to “cripple” the economy, industry representatives said.

Industry’s outrage at the time was over the creation of institutions and policies that now serve as bedrocks of our financial system, such as the creation of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the requirement that publicly traded companies to provide honest and transparent accounts of their finances.

The wildly inaccurate Depression era forecasts should serve as data points in evaluating whether the ominous predictions surrounding recent financial reforms, particularly the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010, should be taken seriously or dismissed out of hand as mere special interest hyperbole.

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