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Get a tougher watchdog

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By Marlys Harris, Money Magazine editor-at-large

Finally, we need a government outfit that looks out for us consumers. It's fine to come up with new laws making this or that kind of loan illegal, but lawmakers aren't always going to be able to keep pace with the financial industry's, er, innovations.

We need one strong agency that makes this a full-time job. Call it the Financial Products Safety Commission, as Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren suggests.

It would approve or disapprove products for sale, set education and licensing requirements for financial professionals who deal with the public, and create uniform disclosures for financial products.

Most important, it would have strong enforcement powers - to issue warnings and recalls and to file suits to block hazardous products. Compared with this year's $1 trillion bailout, these problems may seem like the smallest of potatoes.

But they're big to us. And if you deal with them now, maybe you'll prevent the next crisis. To top of page

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