“A nation that forgets its past is doomed to repeat it.” — Winston Churchill
On Wednesday, September 23, 2009, several major media outlets published articles discussing the Obama administration’s continued efforts to enact enhanced regulatory reform over the financial markets.
Given what has occurred over the past two years, enhanced regulation is absolutely necessary. As Paul Krugman noted in a New York Times Op-Ed article: “In the grim period that followed Lehman [Brothers’] failure, it seemed inconceivable that bankers would, just a few months later, be going right back to the practices that brought the world’s financial system to the edge of collapse.” However, that is exactly what is happening. While the rest of America continues to struggle with job losses, foreclosures, and the effect that the downturn had on their investment portfolios, Wall Street is again promoting the very investments that caused the problem — and business appears to be good.
For example, in a recent article on Bloomberg.com, Abigail Moses and Shannon D. Harrington stated that “A year after the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., credit-default swaps have lost their stigma for disaster and are contributing to the growing confidence in the credit markets.” Have we already forgotten Lehman Brothers and AIG and the problems that CDS created? It appears that we have. In a recent article, Greg Burns of the Chicago Tribune noted that credit default swap reform has “fizzled.”
The only reason that all this appears to have been forgotten is due to the recent “recovery” in the stock market. As Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner stated yesterday in his remarks before Congress:
Make no mistake, the flaws in our financial system and regulatory framework that allowed this crisis to occur, and in many ways helped cause it, are still in place . . . . We may disagree over details over how to best fix those flaws, but that cannot mean we do not act.
It seems to me that the Treasury Secretary is someone we should be listening to, and not Wall Street or others with a similar agenda. Let us not forget our past.