Can the Financial Reform Bill Fix the Economy? → Washingtons Blog
Can the Financial Reform Bill Fix the Economy? - Washingtons Blog

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Can the Financial Reform Bill Fix the Economy?

Preface: If you've been too busy to pay attention to the details, and if you're hoping that the financial reform bill which has just been passed will fix the economy, this essay will bring you up to date.

Congress, Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and the rest of the folks who run the economy are patting themselves on the back for passing the financial "reform" legislation.

Obama says it was "my policies that got us out of this mess."

The new bill is widely described as the biggest change in how the economy is regulated since the Great Depression.

Is it true?

Unfortunately, as discussed below, none of our real economics problems have been addressed.

Consumer confidence is plunging again, and yet little in the legislation really restores trust in the system.

The poker game started breaking down because the wealthiest took all of the chips, and most people have no money to play with ... but the bill does nothing to address the ever-widening gap in wealth.

The bill does little to restore the rule of law, which - as PhD economist James Galbraith notes - is a necessary ingredient in economic recovery.

Unemployment continues to plague the economy, because - even with the new bill- the government is feeding the parasite and killing the patient.

Main street continues to bleed because - instead of breaking up the too big to fails so that their dead weight stops suffocating the real economy (virtually all leading independent economists have said that the too big to fails must be broken up, or the economy won't be able to recover, and see this) - the government has allowed them to get even bigger (and see this and this).

Indeed, just as BIS warned years ago, bailing out the banks has simply spread their problems into sovereign crises ... and now the banks and governments are broke, and the global strategy of printing obscene quantities of money ("quantitative easing") is debasing currencies worldwide.

"Deficit hawks" like top economic historian Niall Ferguson says that America's debt will drive it into a debt crisis, and that any more quantitative easing will lead our creditors to pull the plug. See this, this and this. Indeed, PhD economist Michael Hudson says (starting around 4:00 into video):
If the problem that is grinding the economy to a halt is oo much debt, and if no one in the government - in either party - is looking at solving the debt problem, then ... we're going to go into a depression as far as the eye can see.
Yet the U.S. hasn't reined in its profligate spending. While modern economic theory shows that debts do matter (and see this), the U.S. is spending on guns and butter.

As PhD economist Dean Baker points out, the IMF is cracking down on the once-proud America like a naughty third world developing country. (As I've repeatedly noted, the IMF performed a complete audit of the whole US financial system during Bush's last term in office - something which they have only previously done to broke third world nations.)

On the other hand, "deficit doves" - i.e. Keynesians like Paul Krugman - say that unless we spend much more on stimulus, we'll slide into a depression. And yet the government isn't spending money on the types of stimulus that will have the most bang for the buck: like giving money to the states, extending unemployment benefits or buying more food stamps - let alone rebuilding America's manufacturing base. See this, this and this.

Nobel prize winning economist George Akerlof predicted in 1993 that credit default swaps would lead to a major crash, and that future crashes were guaranteed unless the government stopped letting big financial players loot by placing bets they could never pay off when things started to go wrong, and by continuing to bail out the gamblers. (Not only has the government rewarded the gamblers, bailed them out and let them engage in a new round of risky betting, but it hasn't even meaningfully reined in credit default swaps.)

Paul Volcker is warning that the watered-down Volcker rule (which won't even kick in for some time) won't prevent the next crisis. Similarly, one of the primary authors of the legislation - Chris Dodd - long ago said the bill wouldn't prevent future crises.

Shady accounting is part of what got us into this mess ... but as Citigroup Inc. analyst Keith Horowitz notes, banks are making huge amounts of money from an accounting rule that allows banks to book profits when the value of their own bonds falls.

High frequency trading is wrecking the markets ... but isn't addressed in the new legislation.

Neither is reforming money pits like Fannie and Freddie

The Fed is now warning that it could be 5 to 6 years before the economy recovers, and that there is a "significant downside risks" and a possible slide into deflation. That's not a big surprise ... Ben Bernanke doesn't understand that liquidity was never the problem, and he has continued the same behavior which got us into this mess in the first place. Bernanke and the Fed have caused widespread destruction to the economy (see this, this, this and this). And yet the financial reform bill gives the Fed has more - instead of less - power.

Timothy Geithner was largely responsible for the crash and prolonging the crisis (see this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this and this) ... and yet Geithner is being given more - instead of less - power by the new legislation.

Instead of becoming more democratic and more of a free market capitalist economy, the U.S. has become a a kleptocracy, an oligarchy, a banana republic, a socialist or fascist state ... which acts without the consent of the governed.

No wonder the American and world economies are falling back into the double dip of a very nasty downturn.

And see this.


  1. "Woe to him who obtains wicken gain for his house." Habukkuk 2:9

  2. Is the governments behavior (both state and local) in the BP Maconda issue affected by their dire fiscal conditions?

    Looks like the governments are being pushed into a corner with respect to not being able to foot the bills and then wait years for BP to reimburse them.

  3. I agree. It's a mess. The rich are on such a rollercoaster ride to prosperity that they can't fail. The poor can't climb out of their debt hole. It's another form of slavery.
    There needs to be limits, power corrupts absolutely.

    But I don't know the solution. It's hardly like the government or even Mr.Meddling Obama can do anything right....

    (p.s. thanks for the blog. I love checking this out every day)

  4. Somewhat consistent with the above:

    In this terminal stage, the Power Elites erect one facade and facsimile of reform after another, each one heralded as the "fix" the nation-state or Empire so desperately needs to return to "the good old days" of seemingly unlimited power and prosperity. All are shams, carefully designed and marketed simulacra of actual change.

    These monumental efforts at creating the illusion of reform have an immediate payoff: the Power Elites remain solidly in power, and their share of the nation's income and wealth actually increases as the majority of citizens sink deeper into various stages of poverty.

  5. You have a great blog and always have a number of great links! Keep writing, even if it is only one per day. It sounds like you are a very busy person, but you are also a great resource!

  6. The historical problem of Democracy is that the Fascist criminal element, unchecked, uses our freedoms to corrupt Democracy from within.

    The United States of America’s National Debt to Gross Domestic Product is nearing 100% and soon we will be in financial receivership to the Totalitarian new world banking governance, at that point, the new American Revolution begins.

    U.S. National debt clock:

    The Tea Bag movement is a subversive Fascist movement sponsored by Big Money that preaches against Democracy. Faux News and paid propagandist have been brainwashing Americans for 30 years.

    The opposing forces are millions of Americans who are sworn and united to fight for our Constitutional Representative Democratic Republic and our Independence and Freedom.

  7. Great post. I do think the Financial Reform is more of a "future proofing" bill. There's some good aspects but it doesn't necessarily solve issues now. I think this was a political move for the polls, since there's no real way to stimulate the economy much more. The top guys are hording the capital and the small guys will continue to be hurt by it.


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