Goldman Sachs has agreed to pay $550 million to the Securities and Exchange Commission, one of the largest penalties ever paid by a Wall Street firm, to settle charges of securities fraud linked to mortgage investments. This is on the same day that the Obama administration is rejoicing over the passing of their financial reform bill.
Once again we have proven that if you have big bucks you can buy politicians with campaign contributions and buy yourself out of the consequences of breaking the law.
We need campaign reform and the break-up of the oligopolies that are controlling many of the markets that we pretend our free. Government is suppose to protect our freedom; this includes free markets.
The President knows that the members of the oligopoly in the banking industry are not going to go along with reform. Hopefully others in the industry will see that they are being abused by the oligopoly and support solid reforms that includes breaking up the oligopoly.
1. Banks cannot be too big to fail. If they are too big to fail they are too big to exist.
2. The financial services industry is not a free market and must be broken up. The industry is controlled by an oligopoly whose interest is not to provide the best products and services to the consumer. They are focused on keeping the oligopoly alive and making it stronger. Anti trust laws must be enforced to put the financial services industry back into a free market.
3. The industry needs more regulation. Milton Friedman, the economist most revered by many conservatives said in his book \”Free To Choose\” that the governments role in a free market is to be an umpire to assure that everyone is playing fairly. The industry needs better rules and better umpires.
Big banks must be allowed to fail. Failing includes being taken over by the government, the board members and senior management fired and the shareholders wiped out. The “new bank” then needs to be repackaged, probably into many small pieces, and then sold to the private sector.
Further, “to big to fail” should not be allowed in the first place. The big banks, who are members of the oligopoly that controls the banking industry, must be broken up using existing anti-trust laws. We no longer have a free market in the banking industry serving the consumer. We have an industry serving the oligopoly that controls it.
President Obama needs to find the gonads to do what is right. If not, we need to find someone with bigger ones.
- No bank can be too big to fail.
- The banking industry needs to be broken up also for the sake of allowing the industry to operate as a free market. Right now the market is controlled by an oligopoly of large banks whose major objective is to keep the oligopoly alive.
- Improve regulations. Even Milton Friedman, the economist of choice of most republicans, believed that the governments’ role in the free markets was to be the umpire. ” Rational self-interest” as described by Adam Smith in his book Wealth of Nations described an economy where both the producer and consumer was looking out for their own self interest and this resulted in the best outcome for the country as a whole. For this to work, the free market needs an umpire. Presently are umpires have become too lax.
Sent: Thu, April 15, 2010 7:36:14 AM
Subject: My Hearings Investigating the Financial Crisis
Dear Mr. Banicki:
I thought you might be interested to know that, on Tuesday morning, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which I chair, held the first in a series of four hearings aimed at unraveling the causes and consequences of the recent financial crisis.
The crisis was not an act of nature; it was a man-made economic assault that cost millions of jobs, evaporated billions of dollars in retirement savings and put our nation in the worst economic tailspin since the Great Depression.
Extreme greed was the driving force of the crisis. And, it will happen again unless we change the rules.
Our hearings are based on a year-long bipartisan investigation conducted by the Subcommittee. The first hearing focused on the role of high risk loans, using Washington Mutual Bank as a case history. It showed how the bank originated and sold hundreds of billions of dollars in high risk loans to Wall Street in return for big fees, dumping toxic mortgages into the U.S. financial system like polluters dumping poison in a river.
The next three hearings will look at the role of regulators, credit rating agencies, and investment banks in contributing to the financial crisis. The Subcommittee will present additional case histories to examine each stage of the assault.
The goals of the hearings are threefold: to construct a public record of the facts to deepen public understanding of what happened and to hold some of the perpetrators accountable; to inform the current legislative debate about the need for financial reform; and to provide a foundation for building better defenses to protect Main Street from the excesses of Wall Street.
My opening statement from Tuesday morning’s hearing goes into more detail and is available at [http://www.levin.senate.gov/newsroom/release.cfm?id=323765].