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Financial Regulation Kills Jobs? Perhaps Not

by Marian Wang

With the presidential campaign in motion, and President Obama urging immediate passage of his new jobs bill, the attention in Washington has shifted almost exclusively to the economy and job creation.

And that means a shift away from regulation, right? Not necessarily.

Some regulators and financial industry experts are predicting the opposite–that new financial regulations will spur some growth. 

The New York Times’ DealBook blog cited derivatives regulation as one example. Dodd-Frank requires a substantial chunk of the $600-trillion derivatives market to trade on exchanges or on new electronic trading platforms. “I have no doubt that these new regulations, instituting new types of clearing, trading and reporting platforms, will foster a landslide of hiring in the financial sector,” Bart Chilton of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission said in a recent speech cited by the Times. As another New York Times piece noted, previous financial regulation laws have resulted in additional jobs for accountants and lawyers, at least. 

But separate from the jobs created to actually handle new regulation, others have pointed out that regulations can have a long-term, positive effect on overall economic growth by preventing the types of crises that put an industry on life-support.

Last year, two studies by central bankers and regulators found that the short-term impacts of stricter capital requirements were “significantly smaller” than the estimates published by banking groups, the Times reported. Rather, the studies said that stricter regulation would lead to more long-term growth by preventing future crises.

Banks see higher capital requirements

–which require them to have more financial cushion to balance out risk-taking

–as a damper on profits. They have repeatedly warned that tougher rules will hamper lending, reduce investment and slow economic growth.

But not everyone sees it that way. Swiss regulators, for instance, indicated last year that they would impose even tougher capital standards on their country’s banks on the premise that investors would rather put their trust–and their dollars–in safer banks.

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