Posted by Ron F in Volcker Rule, unemployment, Timothy Geithner, Risk, recovery, recession, Paul Volcker, Obama Administration, Geithner, financial crisis, Congress, compliance, bubbles, Banks, Banking
Despite the prospective "success" of financial reform legislation, my sense is that very little will change on Wall Street as the bills passed by the House and Senate are likely to emerge from conference committee. And that will prevent any economic recovery that isn't just another asset bubble in disguise.
The fundamental problem, or at least one such obstacle, as I see it, is that reform as currently likely will do little or nothing to restructure the banking industry, instead leaving it to regulators to impose new rules with which to limit risk.
The Beltway, mainstream media, and industry all like to paint this as offering regulators a finer instrument with which to oversee banks, instead of the blunt weapon provided by the Volcker rule and other proposals to divide commercial banking from proprietary trading and other non-traditional banking activities.
But that way lays another, worse financial crisis, if not a double-dip recession before or after. How else explain the decline in the money supply despite the Fed's liquidity efforts?
The simple explanation is that banks aren't lending their way back to prosperity, they're trading their way there. And that does next to nothing to get the economy out of a slump, or bring about anything but another jobless recovery.
The point is, banks need to get back to traditional consumer and commercial lending. And the only way to do that is to get them out of other forms of risk taking. That won't happen with the bank-friendly oversight to which Congress seems bent on limiting its legislation.
Even the pro-market University of Chicago's Eugene Fama recognizes that.
But deeper reform isn't possible unless President Obama listens to Paul Volcker instead of Tim Geithner and pushes for more, and based on the administration's performance in the recent go-around, I'm not holding my breath over that.