What Financial Reform Means For Consumers

Reform should help regulate risks, but it could also pass along added costs to the consumer.

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The new agency is meant to protect individuals who were being taken advantage of and signing up for mortgages that they couldn't afford. "The mortgage crisis was caused by lenders not paying any attention to whether or not a mortgage was affordable for the consumer," says Lauren Saunders, managing partner at the National Consumer Law Center. "They made their money on the front end, and they didn't care. Hopefully, that's all going to change."

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac escape regulation. One of the biggest stories from the passage of financial reform may not be what's in the bill, but what didn't make it. Some senators, most notably Richard Shelby, a Republican from Alabama, have complained that financial reform isn't comprehensive enough unless it includes government-sponsored enterprises like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which received bailout money and are still effectively owned by the government. "Here you have for-profit entities that have an incentive to make profit, but knowing that if they make mistakes the government will be there to bail them out," Barrington says. "That's a raw deal for taxpayers."