user preferences

Been there, done that

category north america / mexico | economy | opinion / analysis author Monday August 16, 2010 23:18author by John E Jacobsen - IWW, The Seattle Solidarity Networkauthor email jjcascadia at gmail dot com Report this post to the editors

There’s a reason American workers aren’t paying much attention to the new financial regulations.
And no, it isn’t out of “apathy."

garnishsomeoneswages800x800.jpg


Despite making a combined $18 billion in profits last quarter alone, major banks are still doing all that they can avoid new consumer protection legislation – and, we might add, new legislation hasn’t made it too difficult for them.

Much like the recent CARD Act, banks are quickly finding loopholes in the new legislation to recoup any of their potential losses. A new Bank of America program in Georgia, for example, is now charging customers to simply receive bank statements in the mail.

Amongst other plans in the works, banks may begin raising arbitrary “minimum balance requirements” for consumers, charging people for simply not having enough money in their accounts.

New Oversight:

Amongst the bills more popular attributes is its creation of a new Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection. And here is where the liberal rallying cry “more regulation!” falls apart.

The idea that government regulators are any better suited to watch out for our best interests than corporations are is baseless.

It is, in fact, not an issue of good or bad regulation, but the philosophy of government regulation itself which is absurd.

These days, we are extremely hard pressed to find where the line between politician and CEO lies; the place where being a regulator ends, and being a lobbyist starts. The fact of the matter is, no government agency in the United States today is immune from the insidious influences of the wealthy.

The newly created Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (BCFP), for example, is already set to change from a regulatory agency to yet another revolving door for wall street insiders - and, I might add, it hasn’t even officially been established yet!

Just a casual glance at the news reveals what a heated political battle is already being waged over the appointment of a new director.

But of the dozens of people recommended to take up the new position, one in particular stands out to Democratic party leaders: the current chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel for TARP, Elizabeth Warren.

But Democrats, looking to appoint Warren, are stuck between a rock and a hard place. As political analyst Ezra Klein correctly points out, Obama’s administration needs to demonstrate to his disillusioned base that he and his party can deliver on promises like more consumer protection. But doing so will anger our Wall Street masters of the universe, who may react to the appointment of Warren by slowing our already stagnate credit supply.

Republicans, with a different strategy but for similar reasons, are gearing up to possibly filibuster the nomination of Warren, a woman too whole-heartedly skeptical of the financial sector for their liking.

Both parties, you’ll note, are still fundamentally trying to please Wall Street, who after all does pay their bills – and even regularly writes their legislation.

…the special interests opposing us contributed to the failure of the financial system. They’re trying to preserve the system that failed, and Congress is listening to them in some respects”, observed Ed Mierzwinski, consumer advocate for US PIRG.

It only makes sense that politicians listen to their Wall Street backers – they are not only their financial benefactors, but often their close colleagues and business partners.

Take for example the case of Micheal Paese, Goldman Sach’s top lobbyist in Washington D.C. who managed to become head staff member to House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank – the man who Time magazine pointed out “presided over the negotiations on financial reform.

Similarly, former Goldman lobbyist Mark Patterson has weaseled his way into the Treasury Department, and is now currently serving as its chief of staff.

The revolving door, of course, goes both ways: a former adviser to Senator Chris Dodd (both the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee and author of many financial regulatory reforms), Janice O’Connell, has recently been hired onto Goldman’s lobbying firm.

These close relationships prompt the Christian Science Monitor to recall that “[In] all, the finance, insurance, and real estate industries spent a record $475 million on campaign contributions to congressional candidates in the 2008 cycle and are ramping up for 2010 midterm elections.

What, given the recent history of our country’s government, could possibly make anyone believe the BCFP will be any less subject to the pressures of Wall Street than any other office in government? Wasn’t also Wall Street able to tear down the post-depression era Glass-Steagel Act, and if so, what in these reforms will stop them from doing the same to the Dodd-Frank Bill?

New derivatives and mortgage regulations:

Perhaps just as important as, although less popular than, the creation of a new consumer protection bureau, are the new regulations governing derivatives and mortgages.

Both new sets of regulation offer positive steps forward. Derivatives, for example, will now be traded publicly, in much the same way stocks are, and new mortgage regulation prohibiting NINA sales (selling mortgages without proof of income) will offset the likelihood of another massive housing bubble.

But in regard to these regulations’ original purpose – to fix the underlying problems that led to our current economic crisis – at most we can only call these reforms band-aids.

To begin with, the housing bubble and the derivatives which helped create it were only the trigger for a much larger underlying problem.

As we discussed in a previous article, the real problem with the American economy, the real reason we were hit so hard by the recession, is that we have had to rely so heavily on consumer credit.

Since the early 1970′s, American workers have been forced to take on more and more debt as their wages have stagnated and declined. Slowly, this debt had been building up into an unwieldy and destabilizing force in our economy.

Banks and employers were willing to ignore the dangerous nature of this increasing debt problem, however, because it meant that 1. employers could continue to lower their workers’ wages and 2. banks could find new ways of making money off of desperate workers – such as making payday or NINA loans.

This arrangement, however, could only last so long.

It was convenient for banks to make more and more ridiculous loans to increasingly poor workers as the years went on, in order to keep up consumer spending in the economy – but eventually, you can guess, those absurd loans are going to catch up with us.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out (or an economist, for that matter) that if you’re loaning more and more money to people whose wages are dropping lower and lower, eventually they won’t be able to pay anything back at all. This is exactly what happened to us when we were hit with a wave of mortgage defaults and bankruptcies.

The massive amount of debt U.S. households had been forced to take on in this country over the past 40 years was a ticking time bomb. A massively overinflated housing bubble, powered by new financial innovations like collateralized debt obligations, wasn’t the problem at all. They were just the straw that broke the camels back.

Nothing, to date, has been done to remedy this issue – certainly nothing in the current financial regulation.

Conclusions:

These supposed “fixes” to the American financial system, of course, are anything but.

It fails to address systemic problems in our economy, fails to address the inevitable Wall Street fight back against the bill itself, and fails to adequately address some of the biggest concerns citizens have about the last bailout.

Many outraged workers are rightly asking whether or not the new legislation will prevent another massive bailout. The answer is a resounding “theoretically!”

As New York Times author Steven Davidoff notes,

The bill will still allow the government to fashion ad hoc remedies in the case of a failing financial institution. It also erects a financial insolvency regime that will allow the government to punish failing financial institutions and their creditors.

“However, it appears there is enough wiggle room in the bill and elsewhere in the laws that the government will still be able to structure unique one-off solutions in any financial crisis. We just won’t know until the law is tested.


I’m not holding my breath.

Related Link: http://thetbf.wordpress.com/2010/08/16/been-there-done-...that/

This page has not been translated into Português yet.

This page can be viewed in
English Italiano Deutsch
E

Front page

The experiment of West Kurdistan (Syrian Kurdistan) has proved that people can make changes

[Chile] EL FTEM promueve una serie de “jornadas de debate sindical”

Ukraine: Interview with a Donetsk anarchist

The present confrontation between the Zionist settler colonialist project in Palestine and the indigenous working people

Prisões e mais criminalização marcam o final da Copa do Mundo no Brasil

An Anarchist Response to a Trotskyist Attack: Review of “An Introduction to Marxism and Anarchism” by Alan Woods (2011)

هەڵوێستی سەربەخۆی جەماوەر لە نێوان داعش و &

Contra a Copa e a Repressão: Somente a Luta e Organização!

Nota Pública de soldariedade e denúncia

Üzüntümüz Öfkemizin Tohumudur

Uruguay, ante la represión y el abuso policial

To vote or not to vote: Should it be a question?

Mayday: Building A New Workers Movement

Anarchist and international solidarity against Russian State repression

Argentina: Atentado y Amenazas contra militantes sociales de la FOB en Rosario, Santa Fe

Réponses anarchistes à la crise écologique

50 оттенков коричневого

A verdadeira face da violência!

The Battle for Burgos

Face à l’antisémitisme, pour l’autodéfense

Reflexiones en torno a los libertarios en Chile y la participación electoral

Mandela, the ANC and the 1994 Breakthrough: Anarchist / syndicalist reflections

Melissa Sepúlveda "Uno de los desafíos más importantes es mostrarnos como una alternativa real"

On Sectarianism

North America / Mexico | Economy | en

Wed 03 Sep, 07:46

browse text browse image

120917124939chicagoteachersstrike02horizontalgallery.jpg imageThe Chicago Teachers Strike and the Privatization of a Generation 06:42 Wed 26 Sep by John Jacobsen 0 comments

John Jacobsen reports on developements in the contract negotiations between Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers Union in the context of public school closings and the rise of charter schools. [Italiano]

g20clac.jpg imageResisting the G20 18:15 Wed 07 Jul by Secrétariat externe UCL 0 comments

The UCL wishes to salute the courage of all those people, radical or not, who dared to challenge the climate of terror created by the State and who took part in the protests against the G20 Summit in Toronto. [Français]

manif1eravril.jpg image15 000 people against the budget in Montreal 11:25 Sun 04 Apr by Secrétariat aux relations extérieures 0 comments

On 1 April 2010 some 15,000 people filled the business district in Montreal at the invitation of more than 95 organizations of unions, feminists and students. Was this was the first stage of a unified response against the Liberal budget ? Only time will tell. In any case, it was a beautiful demonstration of the great popular procession type, very diverse , unified and combative (at least at the level of rhetoric...).

[Français]

poster.jpg imageWorkers Without Bosses - Ontario/Quebec Speaking Tour 10:08 Thu 21 Jan by Common Cause 0 comments

We are going through one of the worst economic crises in the history of capitalism and the answers provided by the state and its lackeys are illusory. In addition, faced with this impasse, our leaders are trying to shift the entire burden of the crisis to workers and their communities.

[Français]

usinessanspatron.gif imageFactories without bosses (Take 2): 12:58 Sun 03 Jan by Secrétariat 0 comments

We are going through one of the worst economic crises in the history of capitalism and the answers provided by the state and its lackeys are illusory. In addition, faced with this impasse, our leaders are trying to shift the entire burden of the crisis to the workers.

[Français]

secutiry.jpg imageCanada gears up for SPP protests 06:11 Fri 17 Aug by Andrew 0 comments

On August 20-21 Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper meets in secret with George Bush and President Felipe Calderon of Mexico at Montebello, Quebec as part of the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP). The SPP has as a goal the elimination of differences on standards between the USA, Canada and Mexico. Under this process Canada is already raising the quantities of pesticide residues that are allowed to be on food

textUSA minimum wage at seventy year low! 18:38 Fri 04 Nov by Anarcho 4 comments

During the Great Depression of the 1930s, unskilled and non-unionised workers got $7.89 per hour in today's money. In other words, the Republican politicians have decided that America's workers should get a minimum wage 35% lower than workers 70 years ago

imageThere’s No Hope Above Us, Only Amongst Us Nov 22 by Thomas 0 comments

With the recent re-election of Barack Obama as President of the United States, many are rejoicing and breathing a sigh of relief. There’s a widespread belief amongst those who elected him that he is looking out for us and will fight for us. Unfortunately, besides a few token gestures that may occur during the next four years, his tenure in office is likely to be both a disappointment and one in which the interests of the elite classes are served at the expense of the popular classes. As described below, this has to do with structural, historical and social factors that have been ensuring, and continue to ensure, that this is the case regardless of who is in office. However, there is hope; we’re just looking for it in the wrong places.

image[US] Of Budget Cuts and Union Officials Jun 14 by John E Jacobsen 0 comments

The official business union strategy of supporting the Democratic Party falls flat on its ass... again. [Italiano]

textReflections on Stiglitz article: "Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%" Jun 03 by Thomas 0 comments

A family member of mine recently sent me an article from Vanity Fair by economist Joseph Stiglitz about the problem of elite control within the United States.  While it's refreshing that the article is talking about the problem to a mainstream audience, it stops short of delving deep enough the problem at a systemic level, and perhaps more importantly: doesn't address the need for complete systemic change.  The broader points that Stiglitz brings up are also supported by the Economic Policy Institute - an economics resource that has some great research reports on the topic of how government policy has favored the elite - including: a report showing how the budget cuts proposed in comparison to the tax cuts given and another showing how recently all economic gains have gone to the top 10% (with over 75% of those gains going to the top 1%). 

imageWall Street Already Finding Loopholes in Financial Reform Legislation Nov 17 by John E Jacobsen 0 comments

Continuing in the tradition of watered down, pro-corporate legislation that the Obama administration is becoming infamous for, new reports are surfacing that banks and financial institutions may continue to get away with the same risky trading and investment practices that landed us in a recession.

Like the watered down health care reforms, or the pathetic Credit Card Act, the recent Dodd-Frank financial regulations signed into law by Obama are quickly showing themselves to be more or less useless for American workers.

imageNature of the Period Mar 30 by NEFAC 0 comments

Social systems don't live forever. They have their own internal contradictions, which produce systemic crises. Capitalism is no different; someday it will end. The question we are addressing is whether it will be followed by barbarism, mass death, and barrenness, or by a better world. The current crisis is not only one of greatly increased attacks on the working class and oppressed people but is also a fundamental crisis of the system itself. We cannot predict the demise of the system, something in which the working class and oppressed people must also play a conscious part. We can, however, state that this is the most serious crisis of capitalism since the 1930's--and that one was only "solved" by World War II.

An understanding of today's world crisis must begin at the end of that previous crisis.

more >>

imageResisting the G20 Jul 07 Union Communiste Libertaire 0 comments

The UCL wishes to salute the courage of all those people, radical or not, who dared to challenge the climate of terror created by the State and who took part in the protests against the G20 Summit in Toronto. [Français]

imageWorkers Without Bosses - Ontario/Quebec Speaking Tour Jan 21 0 comments

We are going through one of the worst economic crises in the history of capitalism and the answers provided by the state and its lackeys are illusory. In addition, faced with this impasse, our leaders are trying to shift the entire burden of the crisis to workers and their communities.

[Français]

imageFactories without bosses (Take 2): Jan 03 Union communiste libertaire 0 comments

We are going through one of the worst economic crises in the history of capitalism and the answers provided by the state and its lackeys are illusory. In addition, faced with this impasse, our leaders are trying to shift the entire burden of the crisis to the workers.

[Français]

© 2005-2014 Anarkismo.net. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by Anarkismo.net. [ Disclaimer | Privacy ]