The dramatic expansion of financial regulation approved by Congress this week bears the stamp of no one more than Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner and gives him vast powers to determine the final form of the new rules.
Half a year after some pundits were predicting he would be booted from the Obama administration for poor performance, Geithner is poised to inherit authority to shape bank regulations, financial market oversight and a new consumer protection agency. Few treasury secretaries have ever had such sweeping influence over such a wide realm.
The bill not only hews closely to the initial draft Geithner released last summer, but also anoints him -- as long as he remains treasury secretary -- as the chief of a new council of senior regulators. The legislation also puts him at the head of the new consumer bureau until a director is confirmed by the Senate, allowing Geithner to mold the watchdog in coming months. And it will be up to him to settle a raft of issues left unresolved by the bill -- for instance, which financial derivatives will be subject to the tough new trading rules and which risky activities big banks will be required to spin off.