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Infographic of the Day: Financial Regulation Explained

Remember when the bank meltdown happened and we had to bail out Wall Street? We were so angry! But a funny thing happened on the way to financial reform: Mainstream media started covering the political fights rather than the substance. And when the bill finally passed earlier this week, it did so with a whimper. But passed it did–and few people have really explained in layman’s terms what’s at stake.

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This series of infographics for The Washington Post, created by Brady Dennis and Alberto Cuadra, is the best attempt we’ve seen so far. This isn’t exactly a thing of beauty, but with a few handy dandy illustrations, the series illustrates the reasoning behind each of the five planks to financial reform contained in the recent bill.

For example, the problem with unregulated derivatives, which allowed banks to pile on risk they even they didn’t have a firm grasp on:

And then, there’s the problem of banks shopping for lax regulators among many competing agencies:

Of course, there’s still room to debate whether or not the new law, signed today by President Obama, is strong enough to bend the system–after all, Wall Street has always proven to be pretty adept at circumventing whatever regulations have been placed upon them, and massive compromises were required to get the bill through the Senate.

But still, the infographics here are public-service journalism at its best. Check out the series here.

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