Financial regulation in USA

Written By: - Date published: 12:30 pm, July 17th, 2010 - 16 comments
Categories: capitalism, us politics - Tags: ,

The recent global recession represented a spectacular failure of unfettered capitalism. We never felt the full force and completeness of that failure because the worst was averted – or rather just delayed – by vast injections of Government bailout money. Capitalism was rescued by good old fashioned Socialist Big Government, and the bill is being sent to we the taxpayers – as the lucky people of Britain just found out.

I covered some of the background on the case for financial regulation a while back when such legislation was proposed in America. Now the proposed overhaul has become law:

Congress OKs Wall St. crackdown, consumer guards

Congress on Thursday passed the stiffest restrictions on banks and Wall Street since the Great Depression, clamping down on lending practices and expanding consumer protections to prevent a repeat of the 2008 meltdown that knocked the economy to its knees.

A year in the making and 22 months after the collapse of Lehman Brothers triggered a worldwide panic in credit and other markets, the bill cleared its final hurdle with a 60-39 Senate vote. It now goes to the White House for President Barack Obama’s signature, expected as early as Wednesday.

The law will give the government new powers to break up companies that threaten the economy, create a new agency to guard consumers in their financial transactions and shine a light into shadow financial markets that escaped the oversight of regulators. The vote came on the same day that Goldman Sachs & Co. agreed to pay a record $550 million to settle charges that it misled buyers of mortgage-related investments.

From storefront payday lenders to the biggest banking and investment houses on Wall Street, few players in the financial world are immune to the bill’s reach. Consumer and investor transactions, whether simple debit card swipes or the most complex securities trades, face new safeguards or restrictions.

A powerful council of regulators would be on the lookout for risks across the finance system. Large, failing financial institutions would be liquidated and the costs assessed on their surviving peers. The Federal Reserve is getting new powers while falling under greater congressional scrutiny.

“I’m about to sign Wall Street reform into law, to protect consumers and lay the foundation for a stronger and safer financial system, one that is innovative, creative, competitive and far less prone to panic and collapse,” Obama said. “Unless your business model depends on cutting corners or bilking your customers, you have nothing to fear.” …

Nothing like shutting the barn door after the horse has bolted eh? This legislation won’t undo the damage of the recession, and it won’t prevent the consequent second global round that looks increasingly likely to be heading our way. But it may stop future implosions of the American financial sector, at least for a while. And it represents a huge shift of the pendulum in the debate on the role of regulation, and the ideas of “big” vs. “small” government.

16 comments on “Financial regulation in USA”

  1. gingercrush 1

    Financial regulation in the US and elsewhere still doesn’t the solve the obvious problem plaguing developed countries. That being our ability to gorge debt and to re-gorge that debt. Its a problem that will take years to unwind and its one of the big reasons the recovery isn’t the recovery expected. In most countries the problem is not only personal and business debt but also huge government debt. And while Asia is proving a saviour. China and other Asian countries dependency on developed countries wealth means eventually that flow-on will affect their economies.

    Meanwhile, issues of finite resources, global warming and an aging population will only cause more problems.

    • Mr Shennanigans 1.1

      In New Zealand though private debt is the biggest problem, making government debt pale into insignificance. Any ideas about how we reduce private debt?

      • loota 1.1.1

        Could be done easily enough but Govts are always loathe to tighten the screws on the economy due to the inevitable reduced spending which will result. Basically everyone was given easy credit to make it look like there was ‘growth’. Well that was sustainable.

        Limit credit card credit limit increases, increase cr card minimum payments required, implement minimum deposits required for hire purchases and mortgages, increase the return on standard savings vehicles,…

        • Mr Shennanigans

          Housing borrowing’s the big problem though isn’t it? Largely because there was a belief that prices would always go up and up, and the fact that a lack of new houses drove up prices unrealistically.

          Not sure what the solution is there though. I mean if you do something to lower prices that won’t reduce the private debt, and will just mean that people struggle to re-finance.

          • gingercrush

            Well you could lift New Zealand’s wages though that in itself doesn’t improve things because in simply having more money most of that gets spent anyway and doesn’t solve the issue of savings. In Australia you see that with their record housing inflation where Australians now have larger houses than the US.

            Compulsory savings does increase savings in any country but its rather artificial and doesn’t actually change behaviour.For instance if this country made Kiwisaver compulsory. Yes that would lift the savings levels of all New Zealanders. But still we’d gorge ourselves in debt and because we have certain savings level we’d probably feel more comfortable in getting ourselves in debt. Thus, you need to decrease taxation on savings. Something this National government should have done when they reduced income and business tax and hiked GST and depreciation taxes. Frankly, any savings under $100, 000 should not be taxed period meanwhile investment in retirement schemes and sharemarkets should also incur far less taxes. GST hike should change consumer behaviour to an extent but at the end of the day, you still need to buy groceries, petrol, electricity etc. The government also needs to do more to lessen investment and speculation in housing and land. Many of New Zealanders business especially the small ones including farms etc is dependent on capital gains while in the interim borrowing. That behaviour needs changing. Though how you do that is debatable.

            I personally don’t subscribe to the view that increasing the availability of land etc makes housing more affordable and drive prices down. Indeed, the noughties opened up numerous land and saw more and more houses available. In doing that we as New Zealand simply saw housing inflation increase.

            • Mr Shennanigans

              GC, I also don’t subscribe to the view that urban limits have caused, by themselves, housing inflation over the past 10 years. However, imposing urban limits hasn’t really been balanced through the increased availability of housing stock within the urban limits – in that there has been insufficient intensification.

              The lack of housing (rather than land) supply I think has clearly driven up prices, which has contributed to the problem. We’re also pretty hopeless at our efforts to improve housing affordability – it’s not even a matter of national (or any) importance in the RMA.

  2. vto 2

    Here’s an idea… don’t use debt ever again. Goes for govts and people. If scale of funding is required do it through equity type structures.

    Neither a borrower nor a lender be ( an old and pertinent saying).

  3. more_ben 3

    Unfettered capitalism?

    Ah, no. Not even close.

  4. loota 4

    How I wish I could go to the casino, lose huge at the tables with other peoples’ monies, get the tax payers to bail me out to the tune of many many digits, and just keep on playing.

  5. Whiskey Tango Mike Foxtrot 5

    Since Wall Street now owns the White House, I’m not surprised that they have given power to break up any remaining independent ownership, not to mention giving the fed more power. I bet China is pissed at them too, printing off dollars to pay ’em with. At least we can pay China with coal! Or maybe China is making America pay for the extraction of hard to get to wealth?
    You tag em, i’ll bag em.

    • loota 5.1

      Excuse me, you talk of Wall St owning the White House as if its a recent phenomenon? :confused:

  6. Jum 6

    It was interesting to hear English talking about using Kiwibank, Trustbank, Taranaki Savings Bank, etc to help New Zealand out with loans while the foreign Australian banks were treating us badly, as anyone with two braincells could have told him would happen.

    Foreign ownership means no loyalty to New Zealanders.

    It makes me sick that English is now blaming New Zealanders for not saving enough when a) they got rid of the superannuation fund which Australia didn’t and b) the freemarket banks and marketers and loan sharks and moneytraders were plying Kiwis with money over the last ten years. People are not perfect. They fall prey to the pondscum that insist they must have these ‘things’ to make them successful. NAct’s bankers are the ones we should be blaming for bring New Zealand to its balance of payment knees.

    • gingercrush 6.1

      Oh right so its entirely National’s fault that during Labour’s reign in power, New Zealanders gorged on debt, foreigners brought New Zealand land and businesses, numerous manufacturing companies disappeared from New Zealand and the balance of payments blew out while we saw gross housing inflation that now sees far fewer New Zealanders owning their own house.

      Nine years is a bloody long time for any government to make meaningful changes. To actually blame National for everything is frankly pathetic when Labour enjoyed the best economic decade since the 50s and had the electoral support at numerous times to change the direction of New Zealand.That they didn’t because everything was so easy means that government was utterly useless.

      Its with bizarre logic that most of the things the left dislike about New Zealand, its economy etc either took place under Labour or were excaberated under Labour’s watch.

      • Descendant Of Smith 6.1.1

        Its with bizarre logic that most of the things the left dislike about New Zealand, its economy etc either took place under Labour

        No most took place under the previous National Government or the earlier Labour government

        or were excaberated under Labour’s watch.

        Yes to some – but many were improved though not as much as I would like and nor as quickly.

        My overall summation of the behaviours is that they have followed the mass of the population called the baby boomers with much policy revolving around their needs – lots of assistance while they raised their families with more individualised support as their families left home.

        Left wing values and a shared vision for the country as an egalitarian society got left behind as both parties chased the votes and corporate business began again to dominate the world stage.

        It’s not a conspiracy though it’s just how big business operates.

        I had much more times for the greens who at least came across as caring for something not just ideologically driven. Maybe the problem partly for Labour is that those people who did openly care and may have made a greater difference wandered off to the Greens – the human face has partly disappeared with many local MP’s being invisible.

        There’s no easy answers to why we are where we are at.

        Fundamentally the left needs to work out what left means and then see if the people support it.

  7. joe90 7

    Meanwhile….six banks fail.

    Regulators closed six banks in three states Friday, bringing this year’s total number of bank failures to 96.

  8. Meany Beany 8

    The debt bomb was a (Western) World Wide problem caused by globalisation and oil cartels. Governments can do very little about limiting private debt, but can at least compel it’s citizens to save, reducing NET private debt. Compulsory Kiwisaver is the best answer and should be a plank of Labour’s next manifesto. The reduction from 4% to 2% should be immediately reversed and then slowly (over a decade or more) increased to around 10%. . . with a minimum of 25 – 35% of each being required to be invested locally to boost business investment here in NZ. . . so that we are not reliant on overseas investors who will take even more of our profits overseas.

    This measure would solve lots of issues.

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