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Posts Tagged ‘regulatory reform’

Let’s Give Barack Some Sense on Cents

Posted by Larry Doyle on June 16th, 2009 9:16 AM |

In true Washington fashion, Obama’s proposed regulatory reforms have been “leaked” to the market. Let’s review, analyze, and critique. The Wall Street Journal provides a very helpful overview of these reforms via Blueprint to Avoid Market Meltdowns:

President Barack Obama spent the first five months of his presidency trying to make sure the worst financial shock in 70 years didn’t push the U.S. economy into a depression. He will spend the next five months or so trying to redo the rules of finance so we don’t go through this again.

Enough of the Obama plan has leaked to see how Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and chief White House economist Lawrence Summers propose to protect the economy from the vulnerabilities now so painfully evident: Plug the gaps; don’t redo the organization chart. Rely heavily on the sagacity of the Federal Reserve; the alternatives are inferior. Craft a plan that has a chance of getting through Congress.

Will there be real “change” involved in Obama’s plans or a mere reshuffling of the deck chairs along with a healthy dose of Monday morning quarterbacking? Will the Wall Street-Washington cabal be exposed or solidified? Let’s navigate the landscape of Obama’s proposed reforms using the WSJ’s blueprint:

Problem: Several financial firms were so big and intertwined that their failure threatened the entire system, and they weren’t all banks.

Solution: Pump up the Fed’s role in overseeing all big “financial holding companies,” giving it explicit authority to match its responsibility. Tell it to protect the system, not only the sturdiness of the banking units of these firms. Brace for controversy: Some in Congress already think the Fed is too powerful.

So propose a “council” of regulators to share some duties, but make the Fed the heavy. (Retain the Fed’s ability to lend to anyone in a crisis, as it did to Bear Stearns and American International Group, but require it to get the formal OK of the Treasury secretary.)

Sense on ¢ents: the Fed is already charged with these responsibilities within the banking industry. I highlighted these points the other day in my post “The All Powerful Federal Reserve”:

What are the Federal Reserve’s responsibilities?

-supervising and regulating banking institutions to ensure the safety and soundness of the nation’s banking and financial system and to protect the credit rights of consumers

-maintaining the stability of the financial system and containing systemic risk that may arise in financial markets

The Fed failed to perform. Why give it more power? Obama is specifically addressing the risks within the insurance industry in designating the Fed as the authority in overseeing the entire economic system.

I believe our risks are increasing dramatically via this move. Why? Not enough checks and balances. Not enough eyes and ears and “teeth” to monitor and promote accountability. Merely because the Fed is “all powerful” does not mean that it is “all knowing,” “all capable,” and “all encompassing.” (more…)

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…)






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