The next time you make a withdrawal from an automated teller machine, Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner might be watching over your shoulder. Boosted by the sweeping, 1,400-page financial regulatory proposal currently making its way through the Senate, Mr. Geithner would have unprecedented, real-time access to a wealth of personal and corporate financial data – all in the name of protecting the public.
The legislation, sponsored by Senate banking committee Chairman Christopher J. Dodd, would create the innocuously named Office of Financial Research as a central repository for transaction-related records held by financial companies. According to proponents, “decision-makers” like Mr. Geithner need up-to-the-minute information to act in order to prevent what they refer to as another Wall Street meltdown. The proposed agency would also provide statistical analysis and research, purportedly to monitor systemic risk to the financial system.