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A Real Regulatory Review: Sense on Cents Interview with Bill Singer

Posted by Larry Doyle on June 15th, 2009 1:35 PM |

I feel so strongly about my interview last evening with Bill Singer, the preeminent veteran Wall Street regulatory lawyer and market reform advocate, that I am providing a transcript of highlights. My transcription is not totally word for word, so at the end of this post I will provide a BlogTalkRadio audio player so that you can playback the complete interview.

As time allows, I sincerely hope you read the entirety of this transcript and will listen to the complete interview. In my opinion, the issues addressed are that important. You will not be disappointed.

Given Bill’s extensive experience and relationships, he is uniquely positioned to comment on these timely and cutting edge issues. And now, on to the transcript . . .

Sense on Cents: Bill, we have just gone through a tsunami of epic proportions. Our financial industry brought our nation to its knees. We now get the sense that the regulatory oversight of our financial industry may not truly change. What are your feelings about that?

Bill Singer: I think you are right on point. My greatest fear is at the end of the day, we all go back to square one. It’s like asking for a mulligan in golf. People’s lives have been shattered and businesses destroyed. If you listen to the ‘garbage’ coming out of Washington, it’s as if the solutions are the same old things. We’ll set up panels, write papers, but what will really change?  I don’t know what planet these people are living on, but last I looked, we haven’t gotten out of this crisis. We owe the next generation a much better regulatory system and a much fairer market. You just get this overwhelming sense that the ‘fix is in.’

Wall Street is wiping their brow and sweat and saying “whew, that was a close one.” It’s as if Wall street is telling Washington, “You’re still with us, aren’t you? We’re still paying for your campaigns.” I’m just afraid that nothing will really change other than some cosmetic changes.

Sense on Cents: I hope some real statesmen step up to address these issues. Since I’ve been writing, I believe we always get into the sufficiency of regulations. Which regulations need to be improved and which should be wiped away. I strongly believe, first and foremost, any industry has to have transparency and integrity in its process. As you just mentioned, it seems as if the ‘fix is in.’

Bill Singer: Larry, I’ve been reading your columns for quite some time now. This is not the time for anybody to be blowing smoke up anybody’s “you know what.”  We have a career cast of politicians and regulators who by and large have never really worked for a living and who don’t really have a sense of what the ‘everyday Joe’ goes through. What we need right now is new ideas, new blood. You can’t break into the system. If you have been one of the individuals who has been warning about the major issues for years, you’d think that you would be invited in to ask to contribute ideas to fix them. That never happens. Those folks who regulate us are a very closed society. We have a system in our country that feeds cronyism and there is no way out of it.

I have reached out repeatedly over the years to regulatory bodies and as a 30 year veteran, and a former regulator, if I can’t even get an interview (and I’m not saying I would even want the job; they probably couldn’t afford me), that tells me how corrupt the system is.

When the public reads about Harry Markopolos and Gary Aguirre who have tried to expose issues and they aren’t embraced, that speaks volumes. Regulation has been “in bed” with Wall Street for very long. We need a vibrant and intelligent regulatory system to protect the public against fraud and the industry against its own folly. (more…)

FROM THE ARCHIVES . . .
Future Financial Regulation: Not a Question of Sufficiency, but of Transparency and Integrity

Posted by Larry Doyle on June 15th, 2009 5:30 AM |

I hope people far and wide will listen to the interview I had with Bill Singer on last evening’s NQR’s Sense on Cents with Larry Doyle. Bill is the preeminent veteran Wall Street regulatory lawyer and market reform advocate. He pulled no punches in our conversation. My chat with Bill compels me to republish my posting from mid-May on the future of financial regulation.

Editor’s Note – this piece was originally posted on May 18, 2009:

Will our future regulatory structure of the financial industry allow capitalism to thrive? Will the political wizards in Washington prioritize personal agendas and expediency over unquestioned transparency and integrity? I believe we are at a critical regulatory crossroads not seen since financial regulations implemented in the Securities Act of 1933.

Do the powers that be both in Washington and Wall Street understand the magnitude of responsibilities and obligations involved in this process? Initial returns are decidedly mixed. The debate by those intimately involved in the regulatory oversight is typically framed as a question of sufficiency. That is, does the industry have enough regulation or not?

The media often frame the debate in political terms between laissez-faire proponents and those favoring increased government intervention. Both camps are missing the bigger picture, because both camps are feeding from the same trough. Allow me to expound.

The critical regulatory question facing our markets is not of sufficiency but is one of transparency. Regrettably, both ends of the regulatory spectrum do not want to address this glaring shortcoming because it exposes the very nature of the incestuous relationship between Wall Street and Washington.

The mainstream media, to a large extent, is dependent on both Wall Street and Washington for their financial well being so they do not press or pursue the need for total regulatory transparency. Fortunately, Sense on Cents and other leading financial websites are not under this restriction.

Let’s dig deeper and review where regulatory developments stand currently. As the Financial Times reports, U.S. Poised For Finance Regulation Shake-Up:

Congress will next month start the biggest regulatory overhaul of the US financial system in decades, bringing into the open a frantic lobbying effort between banks, regulators and policymakers on what it contains and who pays for it.

The House financial services committee, chaired by Democrat Barney Frank, will hold hearings early in June into reforms outlined by Timothy Geithner, Treasury secretary, say people familiar with the timetable.

Regrettably, before the debate even begins the premise of sufficiency versus transparency is accepted without question. Well, Sense on Cents is questioning the lack of transparency and resulting integrity of the process, which by its very nature strongly influences the outcome. Allow me to be more specific. Much as the Parliament in the U.K. is being rocked by a current scandal over expenses submitted by legislators, I strongly exhort those who truly care about capitalism, free market principles, and our democracy to address the very nature of the relationship betwen the banks, regulators, and policymakers. (more…)

NoQuarter Radio’s Sense on Cents with Larry Doyle

Posted by Larry Doyle on June 13th, 2009 6:56 PM |

UPDATE: The show has concluded, but you can listen to a recording in its entirety by clicking the Play button on the audio player below. Once the playback has started, you can fast forward or rewind to any portion of the show by clicking at any point along the play bar.

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Please join me this Sunday evening June 14th from 8-9 p.m. ET for NoQuarter Radio’s Sense on Cents with Larry Doyle.  The markets gyrated this week but ultimately ended up close to unchanged across the board. That said, our economic landscape continues to provide numerous twists and turns. Let’s navigate.

The wizards in Washington are working feverishly on an overhaul of the regulatory framework of the financial industry. Or are they? Will real changes be implemented or is it mere pandering? Sense on Cents is thrilled to host the preeminent veteran Wall Street regulatory lawyer and market reform advocate Bill Singer this Sunday evening.

Bill’s career is nothing short of extraordinary. He is engaged far and wide for his legal expertise and advocacy on a wide array of regulatory issues. At this point in our financial and economic turmoil, nobody is better positioned to address the intersection of Wall Street and Washington than Bill Singer.

More specifically, Bill operates within the following realms:

  • shareholder in the Securities Practice Group of the law firm Stark & Stark

  • Publisher of http://brokeandbroker.com

  • Publisher of http://RRBDLaw.com

  • Columnist and Member of Forbes.com’s Intelligent Investing Panel

Bill and I will engage in a no-holds-barred conversation about the recent meltdown of our financial system:

  • What role did inept regulation and incompetent regulators play in allowing the tragedy to unfold and proceed?

  • Should the present regulatory system be salvaged, or demolished and replaced with a new scheme?

  • A major part of the regulation of Wall Street is done by a so-called self-regulator whose rules and Board members are voted on only by its member firms — is this still a good idea?

  • Why don’t powerful industry interests want the job of stockbroker to be “professionalized” along the lines of medical doctors, lawyers, and CPAs?

These are truly historic times in the global economy. Let’s “navigate the economic landscape” without the pandering or nonsense found elsewhere!

With Bill Singer on this Sunday evening, you can rest assured we will leave no stone unturned in navigating all the angles on this part of our economic landscape.

Please spread the word amongst friends and colleagues not to miss the show this Sunday evening on NQR’s Sense on Cents with Larry Doyle.

LD






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