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Regulatory rollercoaster: Four key developments you need to know

What legislative shifts do you need to watch in the coming months? We highlight some notable regulatory developments in North America, from new rules for banks to President Biden’s SEC and FTC picks.

On January 14, 2021, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) released a finalized rule that banned financial institutions regulated by the OCC with more than US$100 billion in assets from rejecting business that do not pose a direct, quantifiable risk to the institution. The rule was proposed late in 2020 after several major banks announced that they would limit their investment in the firearm and oil industries.
On January 15, the United States Trade Representative released annual reports assessing China’s and Russia’s implementation of their respective World Trade Organization commitments.
The Small Business Administration (SBA), in consultation with the Treasury Department, re-opened the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan portal to PPP-eligible lenders with US$1 billion or less in assets for First and Second Draw applications on January 15, 2021. The portal fully opened on January 19 for all participating PPP lenders to submit First and Second Draw loan applications to SBA.
On January 18, 2021, President Joe Biden nominated Gary Gensler to serve as the commissioner of the Securities and Exchange Commission and Rohit Chopra, currently serving as commissioner on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Both nominees have been outspoken advocates for increased oversight of the financial industry. Joseph Simons, the head of the FTC, announced on January 19 that he and several key members of his senior staff would be leaving the agency at the end of the month. Finding replacements for Simons and Chopra may be held up by Congress, leaving the agency with only three members.