Friday, May 21, 2010

Financial Reform Moving Forward

Financial reform passed the Senate. We all know that, Felix Salmon calls it "great news." I am not sold yet, as the bill moves to conference I do not see it becoming a stronger bill, but weaker. Salmon does, however make a historical point worth noting.


Of course, there are always things we’d like to see and which won’t make it into the final bill: the greatly-lamented part of the consumer protection agency which would force banks to offer plain-vanilla financial products is one, and Treasury will ensure that any limits on size or capital or leverage come out of Basel rather than out of Washington. (Me, I’d like to see a couple of basic rules or principles be put into US legislation, which would serve to backstop Basel.)

But as David Herszenhorn says, with this financial regulation bill joining health-care reform in becoming law, the Obama administration has managed to bag a couple of truly enormous elephants in its first 18 months or so in power. Is there any hope, now, that some sort of climate-change legislation might be next?

Now that is a whole lot of hope to jump to even with the BP Oil Spill, the Senate (and the nation for that matter) is underwhelmed with Climate-change in any fashion. After purveying the reform wrap-up of other analysts by Andrew Sullivan, I doubt that it is likely.

As with health care reform the immediate triumph of Financial Reform seems to be clouding the overall effect of the bill. The key questions I have are, does this protect the consumer? Will banks behave under more stringent regulatory standards? Is there any accountability for the crisis? Are the correct measures now in place to prevent another Great Recession? All of which, from what I can tell, the answer to is...sort of. This Congress had the opportunity to make a statement to the financial district and that they did not. That opportunity has now been laid forward for a future Congress to enact better policies, to "build" on the bill that has passed.

Till they do, I have a sinking feeling Wall St. will always find a way.

I am Frank Chow and I approved this message

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