In Misalignment: The New Financial Order and the Failure of Financial Regulation, Joel Seligman provides a broad account of banking, insurance, and securities regulation from the beginning of the United States through the 2007-2009 financial crisis and concludes with a plan for a fundamentally different approach to financial regulation that is more likely to avoid financial meltdowns in the future and minimize financial perturbations.
The history of financial regulation in the United States is a history of crisis reaction. Before the New Deal, uncoordinated regulatory systems were established in banking and insurance. In the New Deal period, the U.S. achieved a long-stable model of financial regulation that atomized financial firms and substantially increased investor and depositor protection. After World War II, the New Deal financial regulatory model deteriorated and vast areas of finance evolved outside of regulation. No event better crystalized this deterioration than the financial debacle of 2007-2009.
How was such a debacle possible in a nation whose financial regulatory system was long considered the finest in the world? More than any other cause, the misalignment of the Treasury, Federal Reserve System, and regulatory systems designed in earlier crises to address specific industries was overwhelmed by a New Financial Order, financial supermarkets that operated in several financial fields simultaneously.
The 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 was at best a partial response to the greatest financial calamity in our history since the 1929-1932 stock market crash. The failure of Dodd-Frank to address the structure of financial regulation was its most conspicuous weakness. Misalignment proposes a plan for a different approach to financial regulation designed to avoid economic failures in the future and minimize financial disorder.