It’s official -- almost.
Both the U.S. House and Senate have passed different versions of a sweeping financial reform bill that contains a hodge-podge of new regulations on everything from consumer protection and stated-income mortgages to derivatives and ratings agencies.
Having followed the back and forth debate with interest, I can tell you that the bill undoubtedly will make sweeping changes and have unintended -- and as yet unimagined -- consequences as such gargantuan bills always do.
But as of Friday afternoon, the bill had yet to be finalized. Instead, a congressional conference committee was still at work to resolve the few, yet substantive differences between the House version and the Senate version. That means the bill is still open for discussion and even what’s been agreed on could still change at the last minute.
Since the bill is so large and complex, it will take time even for the experts to sort out what’s in it, what’s not in it and what it really will mean for consumers.
This lack of finality hasn’t stopped a deluge of news reports and blog posts that are written as if the authors already know for certain what the final bill contains. Sure, we all want to know and we all want to know now. But much of this early look information and advice, which gets picked up, passed along, rewritten and copied from one website to another, is inaccurate and diminishes in accuracy through multiple rewritings.
Consumers should read with interest -- and caution -- and should consider the reliability of sources and the volatility of the situation before taking any information to heart or acting on anyone’s advice. The smart money will wait for the final bill to be signed and do a little extra research and due diligence to make sure the information is accurate before making any financial decisions.