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Money Management

Well-known Harvard professor Cass Sunstein was recently nominated to be President Obama's regulatory czar. In the position, he will lead Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). The nomination has received its fair share of controversy (read "Here Comes the Sunstein").

One of the biggest questions about OIRA under administrator-nominee Sunstein is if and how the office will tackle the massive financial problems facing the U.S. The agencies that report to OIRA typically regulate health, public safety and the environment. Independent commissioners govern the SEC and FTC, and while that is unlikely to change, Sunstein may take a deeper look at those agencies' activities.

"You have this kind of hodgepodge," says Michael Livermore, executive director of the Institute for Policy Integrity at New York University's School of Law. "There are lots of different agencies that are charged with regulating different aspects of the financial industry, so OIRA's in a position to look at that total field of regulation and identify where there are interstices or areas where no one's paying attention to something that's actually very important."

In his opening statement at his confirmation hearing May 12, Sunstein included the president's goal of "restoring the financial system" as one element of the agenda he would help support as OIRA administrator. While he has yet to say how the office would support that goal, the statement indicates financial scrutiny may be on OIRA's plate.

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Lauren Williamson

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