US Political Financial Reform Suggestions

April 6, 2010


Why the Fight for Financial Reform Needs to Get Much More Personal


Yet, when it comes to selling financial reform, Democrats are making the same mistake all over again. The nuts and bolts of the legislation — which are even harder for the public to get its head around than they were with health care — are being given a full airing in Congress, on op-ed pages and blogs, and on TV. And these devilish details — capital requirement levels, proprietary trading restrictions, the independence of the proposed consumer financial protection agency, etc., etc. — are critical. They are critical because it was getting them wrong that promoted the devastation in people’s lives we now see around the country. But the human element is once again getting short shrift.

This is a big-time blunder. Ask the proverbial men and women on the street where they stand on the Volcker Rule, and watch their eyes glaze over. The administration needs to make it clear: we don’t need to overhaul our financial system because the Wall Street sandbox has gotten a little messy, and bank CEO bonuses have gotten too big. We need to overhaul our financial system to make sure that system isn’t rigged to destroy the lives of millions of middle class Americans who worked hard, played by the rules, and ended up holding the short end of the stick when the big banks drove our economy over the edge of the cliff… Read more by Arianna Huffington, Huffington Post

This is a great and thoroughly realistic appraisal of the US political situation — and the perpetuated Democratic mistakes — combined with sound suggestions aiming at what the administration ought to do better.

Supplementary: Global Haplifnet – vanguard topics

 haplif – Frank Kalder (HuffPost profile/comments)


Fundamentally flawed theory? Psychological problem

January 21, 2010


During the economic turmoil of the last few years, Nobel Prize-winning economist and Columbia University professor Joseph Stiglitz has been one of the most strident and incisive critics of the historic bailout of the banking sector.

HuffPost interview excerpted:

With so much talk of a recovery, where is our economy right now?

The way I put it is that, if you look back before the crisis, the American economy was basically supported by a housing bubble, which supported a consumption boom. In one year, we had $950 billion in mortgage equity withdrawals. That got reflected in the statistics and our savings rate went to zero.

The implication is that post-crisis, even if we have our banking system work, it is not likely that we will go back to a zero savings rate in the U.S. If we don’t go back to a zero savings rate, it’s going to be hard to have a robust recovery unless you find something else to fill in the gap.

A recovery is predicated on the financial sector working, but obviously the sector isn’t working. And there is another set of problems: Small businesses can’t get loans. We are in that dynamic process now, where some of the things that we did [to steady the economy] have the characteristics of stretching out our economy’s adjustments. These steps buoyed the economy in the short run, but may be more likely to extend the length of the downturn.

Our response to the crisis was party based on a fundamentally flawed theory. The theory was that we were having a psychological problem, and that if we could only restore confidence then the economy would go back to normal. Of course, we had a psychological problem, which was the bubble, but we’re back to reality now.

This approach is having profound implications that are likely to last. In 2010, the projections say that there will be between 2.5 to 3.5 million foreclosures, more than the 2 million that occurred in 2009. So, that’s an example of the dynamics going the wrong way, probably because we put in place the wrong policies… Read more at Huffington Post 

haplif – Frank Kalder  (Global Haplifnet)