financial regulation

Here Come The Lobbyists

Now that the window dressing called financial reform has passed, the lobbyists are marching on regulatory agencies (what a surprise):

Nearly 150 lobbyists registered since last year used to work in the executive branch at financial agencies, from lawyers for the Securities and Exchange Commission to Federal Reserve bankers, according to data analyzed for The New York Times by the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan research group. In addition, dozens of ex-government lawyers, who are not registered as lobbyists, are now scouring the financial regulations on behalf of corporate clients.

This is your classic stage two for corporations to destroy any prayer's chance of legislation in the national interest. First they move laws they wish to destroy into regulations and studies. Next up is to decimate the interpretation and implementation of those regulations and of course generate counter "studies", otherwise known as lobbyist white paper spin.

More Bad News on Financial Reform

Even more bad news on Financial Reform. The main players in the negotiations between the House and Senate versions are Chris Dodd, Barney Frank and Timothy Geithner.

The Wall Street Journal:

As a result, people who know them say, they are likely to show willingness to negotiate on parts of the bill they don't view as core, while being intractable on pieces they view as elemental.

That could mean easing provisions with strict limits on derivatives trading, proposed restrictions on fees banks charge retailers and even agreeing to allow auto dealers to be exempt from new lending rules.

Nice huh? Negotiations are supposed to be between the two houses of Congress only. The entire list of conferees is front loaded with corporate representatives. Not a single Congressional representative who was pushing for real reforms, such as the Volcker rule, Glass-Steagall, stronger derivatives reform was chosen as a conferee.

Senator wants to use gambling laws on Wall Street

This is such a simple and obvious idea, I don't know why no one thought of it before.

Sen. Maria Cantwell wants to use state gambling laws to regulate parts of Wall Street, saying someone needs to police financial markets where "casino capitalism" involving highly speculative trades she likens to sophisticated betting continue unabated and threaten to create yet another financial crisis.
"She's going for their jugular," Michael Greenberger, a University of Maryland law professor, said of the effort by Cantwell, a Washington state Democrat. Greenberger was a top official at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission during the Clinton administration who unsuccessfully fought to regulate such trading.
Cantwell wants to repeal parts of a 2000 law that barred states from using their gambling laws to help rein in the nearly $600 trillion derivatives market.

SEC votes for Dark Pool regulation

Perhaps the danger that the public will completely lose faith in the financial system is spurring a modest push for reforms. Of course we are still only talking about the SEC, which has proven itself totally incompetent at enforcing existing regulations.

(Dow Jones)--The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission unanimously agreed Wednesday to consider three proposals aimed at shedding more light on non-public electronic trading entities including dark pools, which match big stock orders privately.
The proposals would require dark pools to make information about an investor's interest in buying or selling a stock available to the public instead of only sharing it with a select group operating with a dark pool. They would also require dark pools to publicly identify if their pool executes a trade.

No Super Fed Says Barney Frank

Looks like a moment of sanity is emerging from the House Financial Services Committee. Chair Barney Frank is quoted as saying the Federal Reserve will not be given regulatory expansion powers, instead, a super council of existing regulatory agencies, including the Federal Reserve will oversee systemic risk.

The Obama administration’s plan to expand the Federal Reserve’s powers to oversee financial firms is failing to win supporters in Congress as some lawmakers back a proposal to give the responsibility to several regulators.

“It’s going to be shared authority,” House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, whose panel will write the measure, told reporters July 21, without providing details.

Banks on a Tighter Leash? Obama Says No.

The U.S. Supreme Court overruled a decision by the Bush Administration's Office of the Comptroller of the Currency which barred state enforcement of its own consumer protection laws. Some states have significant anti-predatory lending laws but the financial conglomerates were complaining to the Bush Administration that some states were busting their chops about their lending practices. So, Bush Administration responded:

Thomas Frank's Lament

It was surely a surprise when the WSJ hired Thomas Frank to write an opinion column. Anyone who has read either of his bestsellers, What's The Matter With Kansas? or The Wrecking Crew understands that his view of American politics just doesn't fit in with the other editorial page writers there. I, for one, am very happy he is writing there and his column today should be required reading for every citizen who cares about the future of this country.

Why Congress Won't Investigate Wall Street
Republicans and Democrats would find themselves in the hot seat.

Will Elizabeth Warren become the new Brooksley Born?

In an article published today in The Observer, it is reported that Elizabeth Warren, Chair of the Congressional Oversight Committee of the TARP program, will issue a report this week calling for the ouster of the chief executives of Citigroup, AIG and other institutions which have received government bailout funds.

Additionally, Professor Warren is reportedly also set to call for shareholders in those institutions to be "wiped out". "It is crucial for these things to happen," she said. "Japan tried to avoid them and just offered subsidy with little or no consequences for management or equity investors, and this is why Japan suffered a lost decade."

The article goes further: