Slideshow Ten Policymakers to Watch in 2015

Published
  • January 06 2015, 8:01am EST
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10 Policymakers to Watch in 2015

This year is a rare chance for lawmakers to actually get something done due to the fact that it isn't an election year. But will anything happen? Bankers are hoping for changes to Dodd-Frank, while regulators are moving forward with other big changes. Following are the policymakers to keep an eye on in 2015.

10. Jeb Hensarling

GOP control of the Senate as well as the House this year could be a boon for the Texas Republican, who will now have more like-minded negotiating partners in the other chamber. The conservative lawmaker is expected to continue his push for rolling back parts of Dodd-Frank, along with reducing government involvement in the housing finance market.

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9. President Obama

In the waning days of 2014, President Obama approved a deal he may now regret, giving a reluctant blessing to a massive spending bill that rolled back a swaps-related provision of Dodd-Frank. The provision's passage alarmed progressives, who see it as a big bank giveaway. After the bill passed, the White House vowed they would never again allow a Dodd-Frank change in an unrelated bill. But will Obama keep that pledge?

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8. Fed Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer

Stanley Fischer assumed office as the vice chairman of the Fed last year, but he's already turned heads by asking non-scripted questions at central bank meetings and generally speaking his mind. He candidly acknowledged the big banks' lobbying power in recent remarks and publicly outed JPMorgan Chase as needing more capital in order to comply with a Fed capital rule. He's also now heading up a committee charged with examining financial stability.

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7. Jack Lew

As chairman of the Financial Stability Oversight Council, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew faces a challenging year ahead. The council is under fire for its lack of transparency and Republicans are keen to know more about its inner-workings. With a possible lawsuit by MetLife, which was just designated as a systemically important financial institution, FSOC could be facing its toughest year yet. More reading

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6. Mel Watt

FHFA Director Mel Watt faces a tough balancing act this year, caught between Republican lawmakers that are skeptical of the actions he's already taken and the Obama administration, which would like him to take further steps to loosen credit. More reading

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5. Presidential contenders

Few have announced their intentions to run in the 2016 presidential race yet, but that will change quickly this year. Hillary Clinton is widely expected to run, while Jeb Bush has already signaled he intends to do so. The question is what kind of opposition either of those candidates will face and whether banking issues will play a role in their campaigns. With "too big to fail" still fresh in people's minds, it will be important to see how candidates view Dodd-Frank — and what they think should happen next.

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4. Sherrod Brown

As the new lead Democrat on the Senate Banking Committee, the Ohio Democrat will be a key progressive voice in the fight over changes to Dodd-Frank. Brown is expected to vigorously defend key portions of the law, such as the structure of the CFPB, but he could strike a deal with Sen. Richard Shelby, the panel's chairman, on issues like increasing capital standards for big banks or raising the $50 billion threshold for systemically important institutions.

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3. Richard Cordray

The CFPB remains arguably the busiest financial services regulator. It has already changed the face of the mortgage market.Debt collection, payday lending and overdraft programs are now in its sights. More reading

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2. Elizabeth Warren

Everyone in banking should keep a close eye on Sen. Elizabeth Warren. She's not running for president (despite what you may read elsewhere), but she may influence the Democratic presidential contenders, including Hillary Clinton. Warren is a hero to progressives who will fight any significant change to Dodd-Frank that she sees as benefiting the biggest banks.

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1. Richard Shelby

Call him the once and future Senate Banking Committee chairman. The Alabama Republican led the committee from 2002 to 2006 when the chamber was captured by Democrats, and is poised to lead it again for the next two years (Republicans have a six year limit on chairmanships.) The question is what Shelby is going to do with that remaining time, including pushing for changes to Dodd-Frank or possibly tackling housing finance reform.

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