Presumably, the goal of financial regulation overhaul is to prevent future crisis. If so, then legislators certainly seem to be getting a little sidetracked lately. Case in point is a new amendment coming out of the House that takes detour into price controls, restricting the Visa and Mastercard fees that businesses pay to banks for debit card transactions:

Sixty-four senators, including 17 Republicans, agreed to impose price controls on debit transactions over the furious objections of the beleaguered banking industry…The Durbin amendment gives the Federal Reserve new authority to regulate and limit the fees that businesses pay to card companies. It specifically addresses payments processed through the Visa and MasterCard networks…The legislation directs the Fed to cap those fees at a level that is “reasonable and proportional” to the cost of processing transactions.

UPDATE: I’m going to write more about this later, but I just want to add that I think that we need a reason to mess with prices, the presumption being that prices are useful, whereas many commentators seem to think we need a reason not to mess with prices, the presumption being that prices are only tolerated when necessary.

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