Agreement Near On Financial Regulatory Council

The acid test for me will be: What does Elizabeth Warren think? It's probably a good idea because the story quotes a "senior administration" as expr

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The acid test for me will be: What does Elizabeth Warren think? It's probably a good idea because the story quotes a "senior administration" as expressing "concern" about reducing the Fed’s powers any further and said it was "really critical" that the Fed maintain direct supervision of the large financial firms.

Which could be Rahm, Summers or Geithner, and if they told me the sky was blue, I'd have to double check:

WASHINGTON — The Senate and the Obama administration are nearing agreement on forming a council of regulators, led by the Treasury secretary, to identify systemic risk to the nation’s financial system, officials said Wednesday.

The issue is one of the most fundamental in the contentious effort to overhaul regulation after the financial crisis, and addresses one of the primary lessons of the near debacle: that no one had been assigned to ensure the stability of the system as a whole and detect the kinds of excessive risk-taking and imbalances that could rock an entire economy.

Assigning the Treasury Department the job of spotting incipient trouble and addressing it quickly has support among senators from both parties, though several important provisions, including whether the council would have the ability to bypass existing banking regulators and impose its own rules on huge financial firms, remain to be worked out.

The effect would be to diminish the authority of the Federal Reserve, whose regulation of banks has been criticized for failing to head off the problems.

Talk about understatment. Considering that the boys at the Fed were in on the con game, you can see why Rahm, Larry and Timmy might be concerned about them losing control. Matt Taibbi:

Con artists have a word for the inability of their victims to accept that they've been scammed. They call it the "True Believer Syndrome." That's sort of where we are, in a state of nagging disbelief about the real problem on Wall Street. It isn't so much that we have inadequate rules or incompetent regulators, although both of these things are certainly true. The real problem is that it doesn't matter what regulations are in place if the people running the economy are rip-off artists. The system assumes a certain minimum level of ethical behavior and civic instinct over and above what is spelled out by the regulations. If those ethics are absent — well, this thing isn't going to work, no matter what we do. Sure, mugging old ladies is against the law, but it's also easy. To prevent it, we depend, for the most part, not on cops but on people making the conscious decision not to do it.

That's why the biggest gift the bankers got in the bailout was not fiscal but psychological. "The most valuable part of the bailout," says Rep. Sherman, "was the implicit guarantee that they're Too Big to Fail." Instead of liquidating and prosecuting the insolvent institutions that took us all down with them in a giant Ponzi scheme, we have showered them with money and guarantees and all sorts of other enabling gestures. And what should really freak everyone out is the fact that Wall Street immediately started skimming off its own rescue money. If the bailouts validated anew the crooked psychology of the bubble, the recent profit and bonus numbers show that the same psychology is back, thriving, and looking for new disasters to create. "It's evidence," says Rep. Kanjorski, "that they still don't get it."

More to the point, the fact that we haven't done much of anything to change the rules and behavior of Wall Street shows that we still don't get it. Instituting a bailout policy that stressed recapitalizing bad banks was like the addict coming back to the con man to get his lost money back. Ask yourself how well that ever works out. And then get ready for the reload.

About Susie Madrak

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