Annette Nazareth, a former Securities and Exchange commissioner who is now a partner at Davis Polk, said that when it comes to the Volcker rule, the law requires that various regulators write a single rule that applies to all the regulated financial entities. "So to some extent it's not surprising that it has taken longer when they have had to reach consensus on some very tough issues," she said.
Overall, she added, "we are in a better position than we were before the financial crisis." She said banks have stronger capital positions, regulators are more aggressive and failing banks can be dismantled in ways they couldn't before. "We have the building blocks for a better, more stable financial system."
Action has varied from agency to agency. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission, for example, has been criticized for moving so swiftly on rules that it has had to issue an unusual number of so-called "no action" letters relieving firms that it oversees from the regulations.
Other central elements of the law have fallen into place.
The Senate last month confirmed Richard Cordray as the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau created by the law. Republicans had been blocking his confirmation and demanding broad changes in how the bureau was configured and how it obtained its finances. But a number of Senate Republicans withdrew their opposition, putting Cordray in place and removing one element of uncertainty that had clouded the bureau's work.
The Federal Reserve last month raised the amount of capital that big banks must hold to reduce the threat they might pose to the broader financial system. The requirements, which meet international standards agreed to after the downturn, have met some resistance from financial institutions as being too high, but have also been criticized for not being high enough.
"There is a trade-off between holding capital and the ability to lend," said Scott Talbott, a senior lobbyist for the Financial Services Roundtable. "Our concern is that as you take a look at all the regulations in totality, you will decrease the banks' ability to help the economy."
AP Economics Writer Martin Crutsinger contributed to this report.
Follow Jim Kuhnhenn on Twitter: http://twitter.com/jkuhnhenn
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.