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Fresh push for Obama bank reforms

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WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama’s stuttering bid to rein in the largest US banks got a shot in the arm Monday, as a key Senate ally unveiled a package of bank reforms described as the most sweeping in 80 years.

Senate banking committee chairman Christopher Dodd outlined plans to regulate the massive US banking sector, warning an overhaul was needed to prevent another large-scale crisis that the US economy might not survive.

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Speaking two years after the investment bank Bear Stearns collapsed — the opening salvo in a crisis that engulfed the globe — Dodd called for more government control over “too-big-to-fail” banks and for reform of a regulatory system that “remains hopelessly inadequate.”

“If there was a watchdog on duty, it did not bark,” Dodd said, outlining reforms.

The packages’ highlights include the creation of a consumer protection agency and a powerful committee to monitor systemic risks caused by large firms.

The bill would also clamp down on risky investment instruments, which fueled the crisis, and give shareholders a say on big executive bonuses.

Dodd warned that any efforts to delay reform invited calamity.

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“Neither I nor anyone else can tell you with any degree of certainty that the American economy could survive another crisis of this magnitude,” he said.

But the reforms have been the subject of fierce lobbying in Washington, with some of the city’s biggest political hitters involved in tussles over what the rules should be, and who should enforce them.

Dodd’s decision to house the consumer protection agency at the Federal Reserve was met with barely concealed fury by some of his Democratic colleagues who accused him rewarding a watchdog that failed miserably to prevent the worst financial crisis in decades.

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In a bid to address some of those criticisms, Dodd said the agency would be headed by a director appointed by Obama, and would have the power to write rules governing all financial entities.

Today Americans face an alphabet soup of financial regulators. Depending on the complaint, redress might be found through the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Federal Reserve, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the National Credit Union Administration or the Treasury’s Office of Thrift Supervision.

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Supporters say a new, powerful, independent agency could transform policing of everything from mortgages, to credit cards to banking fees.

But in private, those close to the discussions accuse Dodd of watering down reforms, pandering to Republicans and the banking lobby in order to strike a deal before he retires later this year.

Ahead of the announcement, markets appeared increasingly concerned that political bickering will cause further uncertainty.

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“One thing we know: The Democrats and Republicans are going to fight over it. And that is my worry.” said Joel Naroff of Naroff Economic Advisors.

“Changing around the Fed and financial regulations in this political environment is dangerous. Politicians will likely disagree even if the proposals are good simply because they came from the other side.”

Dodd’s proposals will face a vote in committee later this month.


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This poisonous mindset convinced Republicans that anything is justifiable

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On Thursday, Nancy Pelosi said she asked the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee to draw up articles of impeachment. Her announcement was historic, decisive and fierce due to three simple and overlooked words: once again and enemies.

This article was originally published at The Editorial Board

In using “once again,” the speaker of the House signaled that the House Democrats are prepared to expand the scope of the indictment against Donald Trump to include his complicity in the 2016 assault by Russia on the sovereignty of the American people as well as his enlisting of another foreign leader to undermine the integrity of 2020.

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Nikki Haley busted by Civil War historian after claiming the Confederate flag was once a symbol of ‘heritage’

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Former South Carolina Governor and Trump United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley on Friday stirred controversy when she claimed that the Confederate flag was once a noble symbol that only lost legitimacy once it was "hijacked" by a mass murderer.

During an interview with talk show host Glenn Beck, Haley described how she reacted after white supremacist Dylann Roof murdered nine people at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

"Here is this guy who comes out with this manifesto, holding the Confederate flag," she said, referring to Roof. "And [he] had just hijacked everything that people thought of. We don't have hateful people in South Carolina -- there's always the small minority, that's always going to be there -- but people saw it as service and sacrifice and heritage, but once he did that, there was no way to overcome it."

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Ex-Infowars staffer exposes the twisted world of Alex Jones in a new tell-all article

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Some people listen to far-right conspiracy theorist/radio host and Infowars founder Alex Jones purely for the entertainment value; many of Jones’ hardcore followers, however, take him quite seriously. Former employee Josh Owens used to be one of them. But in a tell-all article for the New York Times, the Texas-based writer explains why he changed his mind and quit what he once considered a dream job.

Owens recalls that he first went to work for Jones in 2012. The writer explains, “Jones — wanting to expand his website, Infowars, into a full-blown guerrilla news operation and hoping to scout new hires from his growing fan base — held an online contest. At 23, I was vulnerable, angry and searching for direction. So, I decided to give it a shot. Out of what Infowars said were hundreds of submissions, my video — a half-witted, conspiratorial glance at the creation and function of the Federal Reserve — made it to the final round.”

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