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Highlights

The United States and other countries are in the midst of the worst financial crisis in more than 75 years. While much of the attention of policymakers understandably has been focused on taking short-term steps to address the immediate nature of the crisis, these events have served to strikingly demonstrate that the current U.S. financial regulatory system is in need of significant reform. To help policymakers better understand existing problems with the financial regulatory system and craft and evaluate reform proposals, this report (1) describes the origins of the current financial regulatory system, (2) describes various market developments and changes that have created challenges for the current system, and (3) presents an evaluation framework that can be used by Congress and others to shape potential regulatory reform efforts. To do this work, GAO synthesized existing GAO work and other studies and met with dozens of representatives of financial regulatory agencies, industry associations, consumer advocacy organizations, and others. Twenty-nine regulators, industry associations, and consumer groups also reviewed a draft of this report and provided valuable input that was incorporated as appropriate. In general, reviewers commented that the report represented an important and thorough review of the issues related to regulatory reform.

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