Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

U.S. President Joe Biden’s interim regulators are wasting no time unraveling Wall Street-friendly measures introduced under former Republican president Donald Trump, using quick-fix legal tactics.

They have spiked or stalled more than a dozen contentious Trump-era measures that critics said eroded consumer protections, weakened enforcement, and curbed investors’ ability to push for environmental, social and governance (ESG) changes.

Rather than embarking on the lengthy process of rewriting the rules, the agencies have in many instances used speedy legal tools, according to lawyers, consumer groups, and a review by Reuters. These include delaying unfinished rules, issuing informal guidance, rescinding old policy statements or issuing new ones, and choosing not to enforce existing rules.

Story continues below advertisement

The swift changes have set off alarm bells in the financial industry, which is having to adapt quickly to the tougher new regime, and set the stage for potential legal challenges down the road, said lobbyists and lawyers.

“The interim Democratic leadership for these agencies are moving very quickly to tackle the deregulatory policy shifts that occurred under Trump,” said Quyen Truong, partner at law practice Stroock & Stroock & Lavan.

“The agencies’ use of guidance and reversal of policy statements demands a quick turnaround of compliance for firms.”

During the previous administration, Trump-appointed regulators eased dozens of rules they said were outdated and hurt jobs, drawing ire from Democrats who said the changes saved Wall Street billions of dollars while increasing risks and hurting consumers.

With a slim majority in Congress, Democratic lawmakers will struggle to repeal those rules, while delays to the presidential transition has left many nominees still awaiting confirmation nearly three months in.

That has put the onus on interim officials to start executing Mr. Biden’s agenda to help Americans recover from the pandemic and to tackle social injustice and climate change.

Acting Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) chair Allison Lee, for example, has been very active. She has returned power to senior enforcement staff, who had it stripped from them in 2017, to open probes without seeking senior approvals, and has reversed a 2019 policy that critics said made it too easy for companies that broke the rules to continue with business as usual.

Story continues below advertisement

She has also begun to reverse the Trump administration’s assault on ESG investing with a new effort to police misleading ESG disclosures.

The SEC said every decision was made with a view to ensuring “seamless leadership” in its mission to protect investors.

Likewise, the Department of Labor last month said it would not enforce two rules finalized in the last months of the Trump administration that curbed investments and shareholder votes based on ESG factors. The agency did not respond to a request for comment.

And acting Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) director Dave Uejio has not disappointed progressives who hoped he would fix policies they said undermined fair lending.

“We are taking a close look at previous policies that hampered the Bureau’s effectiveness and simultaneously working nonstop through supervision and enforcement to ensure financial institutions are treating consumers fairly,” Mr. Uejio said.

He has revoked policies that had undermined the agency’s ability to punish companies for “abusive” behaviour, and which had curtailed the supervisory department’s power to tell companies what to do.

Story continues below advertisement

This month, Mr. Uejio delayed new debt collection rules which consumer groups said would do more harm than good, while Reuters has reported that the CFPB is exploring overhauling the country’s credit reporting system.

Mr. Uejio said he plans to focus on more COVID-19 relief and racial equity measures.

“We’ve already seen financial agencies, most notably the consumer watchdog, take the hatchet to some of the worst Trump-era policies,” said Ed Mierzwinski of consumer advocacy group PIRG.


Republicans, though, say the changes create legal uncertainty and could cause companies to pull back from lending. U.S. Senator Pat Toomey, the top Republican on the Congressional panel that oversees financial agencies, said in a statement that the changes would “slow economic growth.”

And hastily reversing rules and policies without going through a formal review process could risk litigation, said Brian Johnson, a partner at Alston & Bird and formerly CFPB deputy director.

Still, lawyers said they were advising clients to adapt quickly, as permanent appointees were unlikely to change course. “Consumers cannot wait for help,” Mr. Uejio said. “They need us now.”

Story continues below advertisement

Be smart with your money. Get the latest investing insights delivered right to your inbox three times a week, with the Globe Investor newsletter. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies