Published: Jul 16, 2010 11:32 AM EDT
Updated: Jul 16, 2010 8:38 AM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) - In the end, it's only a beginning.

The far-reaching new banking and consumer protection bill

awaiting President Barack Obama's signature now shifts from the

politicians to the technocrats.

The legislation gives regulators latitude and time to come up

with new rules, requires scores of studies and, in some instances,

depends on international agreements falling into place.

For Wall Street, the next phase represents continuing

uncertainty. It also offers banks and other financial institutions

yet another opportunity to influence and shape the rules that

govern their businesses.

In hailing the bill's passage in the Senate on Thursday,

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner acknowledged that implementing

the new law will take time.

"But we are determined to move as quickly as we can to provide

clarity and certainty," he said.

Among the first impacts of the bill, which Obama is expected to

sign as early as Wednesday, will be the immediate creation of a

10-member Financial Stability Oversight Council, a powerful

assembly of regulators chaired by the treasury secretary to keep

watch over the entire financial system.

The Obama administration has one year to create a new Bureau of

Consumer Financial Protection. Congress will keep its eye on that

agency, eager to see whom Obama chooses as its director. The agency

will have vast powers to enforce regulations covering mortgages,

credit cards and other financial products.

One of the candidates often mentioned for the top consumer spot

is Elizabeth Warren, a Harvard Law School professor who was among

the first to suggest the creation of an agency to safeguard

consumers in their financial transactions. Warren heads the

Congressional Oversight Panel, which has been a watchdog over the

Treasury Department's bank bailout fund. Others mentioned include

Michael Barr, an assistant treasury secretary who has been one of

the architects of the administration's regulatory plan.

But while the oversight council and the consumer bureau might

bloom swiftly, other central provisions of the bill will take time,

in some cases years, to take root.

The consumer bureau, for instance, has as long as 30 months

after it is created for its regulations on predatory lending to

take effect. The legislation calls for a two-year study before

regulators write rules on how risk-rating agencies should avoid any

conflict of interest with the firms whose financial products they

assess.

The Fed has until April to derive standards to measure the

fairness of fees charged by banks to merchants for customers who

use debit cards. And regulators will have to fine tune the broad

restrictions in the legislation for the complex derivatives market.

Key will be determining what firms and corporations will face new

restrictions.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce counts more than 350 rules that the

legislation directs regulators to write. Senate Banking Committee

Chairman Christopher Dodd, an author of the bill, says the

legislation gives regulators a specific blueprint to follow.

"This bill directs the regulators to do things," he said in an

interview. "We leave to the regulators how best to achieve the

goals, but the goals are clear. Congress is not a regulator."

In many instances, regulators already have embarked on

rule-writing. The SEC, for instance, has been working on rules that

would impose the same professional standards on stockbrokers and

dealers that are imposed on financial advisers. The legislation

insists that the SEC conduct a study first.

Hailing the bill Thursday, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said the

central bank is also ahead of the game, "overhauling its

supervision and regulation of banking organizations."

Regulators also will have to figure out how to implement new

standards for how much capital banks should hold in reserve to

protect against losses. The legislation requires rules in 18

months. But the U.S. is also part of international negotiations on

what global capital standards should be, and those could move more

slowly.

"I am very confident with the strong hand that this

(legislation) gives us, that we will be able to bring the world

with us," Geithner told reporters Thursday.