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ProPublica: The Buck Stops With Obama On Tepid Financial Reform

Examining the new book by former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Jesse Eisinger writes for ProPublica's "The Trade" and The New York Times's "DealBook" that the reluctance to push for serious change in the financial system after the 2008 meltdown can be traced to the very top: President Obama.

The flaws we thought we were seeing during Mr. Geithner's tenure turn out to have replicated themselves in other Obama departments, Eisinger writes. And they have persisted after Mr. Geithner left.

He goes on to note:

  • Favored Obama appointees seem to share certain qualities: They work within the system, they don't like to ruffle feathers or pick fights, and they keep their profiles low.
  • For example, at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the outspoken Sheila Bair was replaced with the low-profile Martin J. Gruenberg. Gary S. Gensler, the tough chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, didn't get nominated to a second term. The new head of the S.E.C., Mary Jo White, has been disappointing on regulatory questions.
  • Geithner was consistent in his hostility to significant action, at least: He writes of his opposition to the Volcker Rule -- which prohibits banks that take taxpayer-insured deposits from speculating for their own account - saying he accepted it only in a "purely legislative calculation" that it would help the overall Dodd-Frank reform package pass. (This admission comes only three pages after his praise of "the impressive extent to which policy trumped politics in the Obama administration.")

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See also:

The Wall Street Money Machine.

"As the housing market started to fade, bankers and hedge funds scrambled for ways to maintain the lavish bonuses and profits they had become so accustomed to, repackaging mortgages in complex securities called collateralized debt obligations. The booming CDO market masked how weak the housing market was, and exacerbated its collapse."

Including:

* The Rise Of Corporate Impunity.

* How Bank Of America Execs Hid Their Losses - In Their Own Words.

* How A Handful Of Merrill Lynch Bankers Blew Up Their Own Firm.

* Banks' Self-Dealing Super-Charged Financial Crisis.

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Comments welcome.



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Posted on May 21, 2014


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