Friday, April 25, 2014

Center for Public Integrity- Meet the Banking Caucus, Wall Street's secret weapon in Washington

Lawmakers help industry donors beat back tougher rules

Fantastic reporting and analysis from the Center for Public Integrity. 

Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, the committee’s ambitious chairman, attempted to retake the discussion with what passes for a joke in the oxygen-starved air of the wood-paneled hearing room in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill.
“Occasionally we have been accused of trying to undermine aspects of Dodd-Frank,” Hensarling said with a chuckle. “I hope we’re guilty of it.”
Tee-hee. Hensarling is absolutely disgusting: 

Hensarling’s fundraising nearly doubled in 2012, after he became the highest-ranking Republican on the committee. He hosted a fundraising ski trip in February at the St. Regis Deer Valley resort that boasts uniformed “ski valets,” a “private ski beach” and a “split-level infinity pool.” His political action committee, The Jobs, Economy and Budget (JEB) Fund, took in $87,100 that month including $5,000 each from the Consumer Bankers Association, the Capital One Financial PAC, and the National Pawnbrokers Association PAC. 
Having briefly worked in a financial regulatory agency, I can confirm that most Hill hearings related to financial services issues are an elaborate form of Kabuki theater. For the uninformed, it may appear that members have legitimate concerns and are questioning regulators in order to extract useful information from them. In reality, these hearings are largely scripted political theaters, where most members simply read off of talking points handed to them by industry lobbyists, who then sit in the gallery, with their $2000 suits and shiny tablets, to make sure the "representatives" say and do the right things. It might be funny if they weren't destroying so many peoples lives.

It should be abundantly clear that this step-by-step regulatory process is inadequate. It is too easy for industry to insert itself over and over again as each rule is being separately formulated, by agencies that vary greatly in their closeness to industry. Since regulators are government employees and are subject to salary caps, there is no way that we can be sure that they are not always thinking ahead to a private sector job, and treat their potential future employers with kid gloves.

In my mind, Warren Mosler's proposals for reforming the banking system are really the only effective option. The basic government-insured operations of banking need to be entirely cleaved off from any market-making or speculative based functions, in my opinion, and leave the rest to the private sector. The Volker Rule attempted to do this in piecemeal, Rube-Goldberg manner, but it may just turn out to be a screen door on a submarine.

Its just too hard to regulate banking conglomerates that do a little bit of everything, have an enormous market presence, and can pour millions into lobbying/PAC efforts. Its always tempting to pump the partisan pom-poms and pretend like Republicans are evil and corrupt on these issues, like they are on everything else. But the New/Clinton era Democrats are just as close to the street as any Republican. And unlike the fossil fuel industry, the financial sector gives just about evenly to Democrats and Republicans, and happily picks off Hill staff from both sides of the aisle as well. And remember, Jamie Dimon considers himself a Democrat.

1 comment:

Matt Franko said...

Good points Justin... here is the bio of the seed of Peterson from the "Fix the Debt" website:

"He worked on the Clinton and Dukakis presidential campaigns, served as a Congressional Aide to Majority Leader Richard Gephardt, and conducted research for both the Committee for Economic Development and the Institute for International Economics."

Obviously a Democrat.

Yet Bill Black at NEP will religiously term the Peterson people GOPers which makes me question Counselor Black's judgement in general...