The election is over and it is undeniable that there have been some significant changes in Washington. The Republicans increased their numbers in the House and took control of the Senate. Of course, in the interminable post-mortem discussions being broadcast 24/7 since Election Day, pundits of all political stripes (just how does one get to be a pundit?) expressed their views on the meaning of the election results. From “wave” to “waterfall” on one end of the spectrum, to “re-adjustment” and “expected change in a midterm election” on the other, the airwaves (is it now cablewaves?) and the Internet have been filled with any number of analyses, interpretations, forecasts and predictions.
The election did, no doubt, signal that a change in focus is likely on Capitol Hill - at least until the next election (does that observation make me a pundit?). But, as happens every first Wednesday of November, the rest of us simply go back to work, including those who work in all the various agencies in Washington.
And so it is this year. In these pages we focus primarily on regulatory activities that impact the financial services world. Here in the US, most of that activity comes not from Congress but from the agencies that have day-to-day responsibility for our financial markets. While Congress may go into a lame duck mode until the first day of the 114th Congress, the agency staffers, like the rest of us, were back at work the next day with an already lengthy to-do list. It seems pretty clear that even if there turns out to be a sea change in Congress’s view of the need for financial legislation - which seems unlikely; few people seriously envision a wholesale repeal of Dodd-Frank or the JOBS Act - there will be no shortage of regulatory initiatives coming out of Washington in the foreseeable future. The SEC, for example, still has many Dodd-Frank rules to complete, portions of the JOBS Act regulations are unfinished and many of the Commission’s own rulemaking initiatives continue. Other agencies are on similar tracks.
So, while somewhere down the road the results of this election may have an impact on the number of regulations we all deal with every day, that impact is not likely to be noticed for some time. Of course, if the next election results in another wave or waterfall (or even a re-adjustment or expected change) in the other direction, we may see no change at all.
Of course, as with all things political, this is only one viewpoint. There will no doubt be many others that take an entirely different view. (Hmm. Perhaps I have become a pundit.)