The Fourteenth Banker Blog

April 7, 2010

Who is watching the store?

Filed under: Running Commentary — thefourteenthbanker @ 1:55 AM

In this disappointing piece, another hope of reform is showing signs of demise.     The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission is going the way of most committees.      It reminds me of how my Homeowner’s Association works.      What fun those meetings are.    It also may explain why one staffer there has “gone dark” like an older big box retailer.

I want to thank all those who have commented in the last couple of days and I apologize for being slow to moderate comments.

Some bankers are asking, what can we do?     Just asking is a beginning.    Policymakers need to know that banking is a democratic business.   All points of view are present.  However, different values inform different perspectives.     We are called to discuss those values.     Who was it that said, “you can’t teach a man something that his salary depends on his not learning”?    This has little to do with intelligence.    Lobbyist mercenaries have 1/1000 the credibility of real bankers on the ground.

Write your representatives.     This is a form of free speech that is not debatable.    Cut your contribution to your company’s PAC.

If you are a Representative or Senator, ask a visiting lobbyist to find another career.     Roll up a message, put it in a bottle, and ask that it be hand delivered to the CEO of the bank or advocacy group in question.     Tell them to take it out of the bottle and stuff it.     Better yet, wrap it in cash.   That will put your message on an equal playing field with theirs.   Don’t be so polite.   Stop accepting campaign contributions from those whose business is before your committee.     Dig deeper.



  1. I really wish that the men you seem to be appealing to would hear your words, but I suspect the will put Rhodes before you. The are all collectivists, and that is the system they are all trying to preserve together, for their benefit, not ours.

    Comment by macfly — April 7, 2010 @ 3:38 AM | Reply

  2. In January 2007, campaign reform came into force in Canada. (This after we had our own shameful and traumatic “banana republic” experience.) In Canada:

    “Corporations, trade unions and unincorporated associations may no longer make political donations to candidates, registered electoral district associations or nomination contestants of registered parties.”

    “Contribution limits from individuals are now: no more than $1,100 in any calendar year to each registered political party”

    Can you imagine a TBTF bank (or Big Pharma, Big Health Insurer …) being limited to an $1100 donation to a political party! OMG a slippery slope. It might even lead to singlepayer healthcare. What would the ill-informed and under-educated ask for next !

    Comment by tippygolden — April 7, 2010 @ 6:24 AM | Reply

  3. It’s been clear from the public meetings held (I haven’t listened to the most recent one) that the Committee is fractured on political lines. Additionally at one point I had a belief that the FCIC would make some recommendations for financial reform; however that function is becoming OBE (unless a crises in 2010 shows the need for more reform). Is the FCIC going to come up with a better report than what TARP COP produced in january? I’m hoping the TARP COP-visits regulatory reform in an upcoming meeting. I know they held hearings on it January 2009, but now with legislation in full view I’d like to have another take on it.

    Comment by OhReginaldIDisagree — April 7, 2010 @ 2:11 PM | Reply

  4. I am very disappointed that, according to press reports, the Inquiry Committee has issued no subpoenas to date. How can they get to the real story without subpoenas? All the actors they need to talk to are bound by confidentiality agreements and can’t legally come clean unless they are subpoenaed.

    On that tangent, I would like to put a question to the group: Should there be much tighter legal boundaries put on what an employer can contractually bind an employee (or ex-employee) not to discuss? I’m not talking about trade secrets. My employment agreement, for example, forbids me from speaking about my firm for one year after leaving. Does this sweeping prohibition serve any public interest? Suppose I wanted to tell people that my former colleagues are bad investors or untrustworthy (but not criminal)? This is an important part of how the financial industry rigs the game in its favor and impedes accountability and oversight from the government.

    Comment by Curious — April 8, 2010 @ 12:03 AM | Reply

  5. I have a question to the author of this blog:

    Do you think that the bailouts that followed Lehman’s collapse paved the way for financial reform to be killed?

    What I mean is this: in the 1930s, Washington took steps to regulate the banking system: Glass-Steagall, FDR’s bank holidays, the FDIC was created, etc. I am beginning to think that these reforms were only possible because so much of the banking system went under after the stock market crash and as a result, the banking lobby was weakened. By contrast, the government’s unprecedented intervention to save “Too Big To Fail” banks also ensured that their political lobbying continued uninterrupted, making meaningful reform all but impossible. I’ve even read stories of taxpayer money being funneled into PACs.

    What are your thoughts on this question?

    Comment by Binh — April 13, 2010 @ 8:43 PM | Reply

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