Which government agencies protect the interests of consumers and regulates businesses?
There are multiple U.S. Government agencies responsibe for protecting consumer safety and providng oversight of privately-owned businesses. Depending on the type of business or product produced, the agency could be the Food and Drug Administration or the Securities and Exchange Commission. The former, as the name suggests, regulates the food and drug industries and the latter regulates the financial securities industry.
In addition to the FDA and the SEC, the Federal Trade Commission's Bureau of Consumer Protection exists to protect consumers against fraudulent business practices. The newest addition to the list of government agencies responsible for protecting consumer interests is the Consumer Financial Protection Board (CFPB). The CFPB was established in response to the financial crisis that swept the banking and securities industries in the 2008, resulting in financial losses in the billions of dollars. The CFPB, which resides within the Department of the Treasury, was created by Congress as part of the Dodd-Frank financial industry reform legislation. It's principal function is to examine financial vehicles or mechanisms like deriatives and hedge funds to ensure they are being properly run and to determine the level of risk to consumers involved.
The banking sector was already heavily regulated, but those regulations were frequently not properly enforced. Different categories of banks are regulated by one of four different agencies, the Federal Reserve Board, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and the National Credit Union Administration.