Tag Archives: Dodd-Frank

How Quickly They Forget

Wasn’t it just a few years ago that the U.S. economy was in the toilet?

And wasn’t it clear that it was in the toilet in large part because of the immoral, rapacious, cynical business practices of Wall Street, a collective community that, when left to its own devices, always does the wrong thing because of its unquenchable greed?

And didn’t Congress respond, albeit weakly, with legislation commonly known as Dodd-Frank that regulated credit cards, loans, and mortgages, all of which were abused by financial companies and contributed to the economy’s crash; provided oversight over the financial industry; stopped banks from gambling with their depositors’ money; regulated the complex derivatives that wreaked havoc on the economy; forced hedge funds to stop conducting their business in secret; provided for oversight of the credit rating agencies that gave good credit ratings to failing companies because it was the failing companies that paid their fees; and provided new oversight over insurance companies and their risky and reckless practices.

Dodd-Frank was decent, but not ideal; it was watered down by Republicans (and, to be fair, some Democrats, too) beholden to Wall Street.

But the economy has at least partly recovered, and those same Republicans (and, to be fair, some Democrats, too) beholden to Wall Street now want to water down those Dodd-Frank requirements.

They want to raise the threshold of what constitutes a bank that’s too big to be allowed to fail, apparently because even though Republicans (and, to be fair, some Democrats, too) don’t want government meddling in financial industries, they don’t mind bailing out banks.

They want to ease the mortgage-lending rules even though millions of Americans lost their homes because of deceptive mortgage-lending practices in the past. Ease off how? By once again permitting banks to extend mortgages to people who can’t demonstrate that they’ll be able to pay those mortgages.

They want to permit smaller banks – you know, the ones with the less-skilled staff – to engage in the kind of risky trading that helped cause the financial meltdown in the first place.

So why is the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee proposing all of this?

Does he think the Wall Street and financial industry people got a bum rap for causing the recession?

Does he think the Wall Street and financial industry people have learned their lesson and won’t do those bad things anymore?

Does he think the regulations are no longer needed since the economy’s now returned to some kind of equilibrium?

Or are he and his fellow Republicans (and, to be fair, some Democrats, too) under pressure from their big campaign contributors to remove the handcuffs and free them once again to do anything they can think of to swindle ordinary people out of their last dime?

About that last one: Richard, Shelby, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee and the guy advancing this proposal to dilute Dodd-Frank, raised $6.7 million in campaign contributions between 2009 and 2014 (even though he’s eighty-one years old and has no business running again). Of that $6.7 million, $710,000 came from securities and investment firms; $362,000 from insurers; $279,000 from real estate interests; and $262,000 from finance and credit companies. His biggest corporate sources of contributions? Travelers, Bank of New York Mellon, General Electric (although you know GE mostly for its manufacturing, it makes much of its money from GE Capital, its lending arm), American Express, Fidelity Investments, Morgan Stanley, and Goldman Sachs.

But surely that’s just a coincidence.






March News Quiz

  1. Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina was chosen to be the next pope because of:  a) his deep expertise in spiritual matters; b) his readiness to manage a world-wide organization; c) his skill in using social media to communicate with a widespread flock; or d) no past accusations of diddling altar boys?
  2. An eighty-seven-year-old woman died at a California nursing home earlier this month when no one on the facility’s staff administered CPR after the woman collapsed.  The nursing home’s administrator defended the failure to administer CPR, saying that:  a) according to the nursing home’s records, resuscitation was not part of the package of nursing services the woman’s family purchased; b) the woman was notorious for her bad breath and no one would go near her; c) it happened shortly after seven o’clock and everyone was in the lounge watching Matlock, so no one even noticed there was a problem; or d) the company policy is to wait for rescue personnel to administer CPR and not to have staff nurses provide nursing services?
  3. A recent magazine article revealed that two of the three female members of the Supreme Court have taken up weightlifting because:  a) a sound body leads to a sound mind; b) it’s a very sedentary job, so they need the exercise; c) the court administrator referred to their robes as moo-moos; or d) they’ve decide that it’s time Justice Antonin Scalia got the ass-kicking he so richly deserves?
  4. The internet bargain company Groupon fired its CEO after several money-losing quarters.  Analysts believe the company’s next CEO will:  a) have more executive experience than his predecessor; b) make better use of technology than his predecessor; c) come from a marketing background; or d) have his salary discounted forty percent?
  5. The current leader in Republican presidential polls is:  a) Rand Paul; b) Marco Rubio; c) Jeb Bush; or d) really?  Do we have to hear about this already?
  6. Hunters in Utah are paid a bounty of fifty dollars by the state for every coyote they kill.  The state is offering this bounty because:  a) coyotes are killing livestock; b) coyotes are killing dogs and cats; c) coyotes are killing deer that hunters want to kill themselves; or d) the state wants to protect the Roadrunner?
  7. Some members of Congress want to weaken the Dodd-Frank law that was passed in 2010 to make the American financial system more accountable and transparent and to protect ordinary working people from the kind of Wall Street-induced recession the country experienced beginning in 2008.  They now want to weaken the law because:  a) people on Wall Street make large political contributions, ordinary working people don’t; b) the Wall Street people now say they’re sorry and promise they won’t do it again and that’s good enough for Congress; c) protecting ordinary working people isn’t part of the job description; or d) Dodd and Frank are no longer in Congress so there’s no reason any law they sponsored should still be valid?
  8. The Atlantic City casino Trump Plaza was recently sold for the bargain basement price of $20 million – far less than the value of even the building, the land on which it sits, and its furnishings.  This signifies that:  a) it’s no longer as easy as it used to be to get people to piss away their money; b) people are still reluctant to visit an attraction where your life is in jeopardy if you wander more than two blocks in the wrong direction; c) there’s not much of a market for a seaside resort in which it’s freezing in that sea for seven months of the year; or d) Donald Trump has once again demonstrated that he has no idea how to run a successful casino?
  9. Controversy has arisen over a new law prohibiting the unlocking of cell phones.  The major issue is:  a) cell phone makers have a proprietary interest in the technology they develop and believe only they should be able to modify that technology; b) people who buy high-end cell phones believe they should be able to do anything they want with them; c) government shouldn’t be involved in this matter one way or the other; or d) how do you fit a key into a tiny cell phone?
  10. Danielle Fishel, the actress who played the adorable character “Topanga” on the old television series Boy Meets World, is now all grown up and recently posed for a revealing photo to accompany a magazine article about a sequel to the 1993-2000 series.  In similar news:  a) the Olsen twins are now doing girl-on-girl; b) Winnie Cooper has been identified as the head of a drug cartel; c) Honey-Boo-Boo was observed hustling outside a Georgia Walmart; or d) Lindsay Lohan was…oh, hell, is there anything Lindsay Lohan could possible do that would surprise anyone anymore?