Search Box

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Financial amendments bill

Last night my parents told me that they had been reading this blog, but that they wished I would write about more substantive issues, since they had "no interest in reading about which movie stars had affairs."

Most people I know of my approximate vintage (1954) have either buried their parents or are taking care of very elderly, frail parents.

Me? I'm still rebelling against mine.

So expect more gossip, or at least gossip-induced observations on human nature (my parents seem to have missed the point of the previous post).

But I am a dutiful as well as rebellious son (the two characteristics can coexist). So here is a more "substantive" (read: boring) post.

Yesterdays' NY Times had an article on page B6 stating that the Senate Banking Committee had received 359 amendments to the financial reform bill by the Friday deadline.

Three hundred and fifty-nine?

That, in a nutshell, is what's wrong with Washington. Every politician beholden to campaign contributors (from Barack Obama on down) needs to kowtow to them. Thus the interests of moneyed minorities take precedence to the interest of the country overall every time legislation comes up.

What we need in the way of financial regulation is actually simple. We need the mortgage bonds which started the financial meltdown to be made more transparent. Mortgages known as collateralized debt obligations had been sliced and diced so many ways that by the time the meltdown started in '08 not even the originators of the mortgages could evaluate them.

We need the banks to have stricter capital ratios. As recently as ten years ago they had capital ratios of twelve to one, meaning they controlled twelve dollars in assets for every one dollar they actually owned. By 2008, this ration had risen to forty to one.

Finally, we need credit default swaps to be regulated and traded over the counter, with minimum collateral standards established. This would prevent another AIG, which essentially sold insurance it couldn't pay for.

You can be sure none of these changes will be made, at least not without being watered down by politicians beholden to lobbyists.

(Okay Mom? Dad?)

No comments: