On July 15, 2010, the Senate passed the
Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection
Act, which was passed by the House of Representatives
on June 30th. The President has indicated that he will sign
the bill that has now passed both of the Houses.
The legislation covers a wide variety of
topics in an effort to address the causes of the recent
financial crisis. With regard to credit rating agencies, the
legislation covers the following topics: increased
accountability, internal controls to avoid conflicts of
interest and to better ensure the accuracy of ratings,
elimination of reliance on ratings by federal agencies, and
public disclosure of the information on which ratings are
based to allow investors and other users to evaluate accuracy
and to compare the performance of different agencies.
As indicated in our complete summary,
many of the requirements to be imposed have been left by
Congress to regulations to be prescribed by the SEC and many
actions that had been proposed in Congress have been relegated
to studies to be conducted over the next several years.
Generally, the SEC is required to issue final regulations with
regard to credit rating agencies within one year of the date
the legislation is enacted.