Reform reading: What will Barney's replacement do?

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A tidal wave of Wall Street campaign contributions to Republican candidates this election season reflects a desire by the financial services industry to put pressure on regulators to limit costs as they write hundreds of rules to carry out the Dodd-Frank law, MarketWatch’s Ronald Orol says. Lawyer Dan Crowley told him that a Republican chairman of the House Financial Services Committee – probably Alabama’s Spencer Bachus – would be eager to hold hearings on one of the most contentious parts of the law: the Volcker rule limiting banks’ risky trading for their own accounts.

If the GOP retakes control of the U.S. House, Barney Frank of Massachusetts, one of the lawmakers the reform law is named after, becomes the ranking Democrat on the committee. That is, assuming he wins his own re-election race.

No wonder the national debt is so high

The Dodd-Frank law aims to help Americans improve their financial literacy, and Wharton business school professors say that can’t happen soon enough. In a new article, the Wharton profs point to a 2007 survey showing that of 1,700 Americans ages 51-56, 43 percent could not correctly divide lottery winnings among five people… and a whopping 82 percent couldn’t figure out the compound interest on $200 in a savings account.

SEC gains little-noticed power

Buried deep within the massive Dodd-Frank law is a barely-noticed provision giving the Securities and Exchange Commission the power to file more cases seeking monetary penalties in administrative law courts, where the rules are more favorable to the government than in federal courts, Reuters’ Carlyn Kolker reports. Previously, the SEC could file such cases only against registered broker-dealers and investment advisers. But now, the agency can go to administrative law judges with complaints against anyone involved in securities – hedge funds, bank executives, and day traders.