Bank Oversight For Hire

The rise, and downsides, of private bank examiners

Brooks Kraft / Corbis for TIME

Congress passed President Obama's sweeping financial-reform bill, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, in the wake of near total economic collapse. The motivation behind the landmark legislation was simple: Never again. But three years on, the reform bill's shortcomings are many, and one of them is its growing reliance on private regulators to oversee the nation's banking system. In place of publicly accountable examiners working for the government, private bank oversight has become the norm, along with some of the same hallmarks of the pre-crash era: byzantine regulations that few but the experts can understand, outsize influence by a handful of firms with deep links to both banks and the government and a revolving door between Washington and Wall Street still spinning like a top.