January 27, 2011

FCIC Report Misses Role of Government in Housing Bubble and Collapse

Summary

Regulation does not work, because the Fed had the power to prevent too-big-to-fail banks from forming with deposit rule, yet they chose to ignore them.

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To be sure, regulators were not up to the task of providing guidance or control during the crisis, but the remedy seems to be even more regulation with the Dodd-Frank legislation. How soon we forget that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were “for profit” enterprises with a government subsidy. To blame the financial crisis solely on the private sector is both bizarre and disingenuous.

Risk taking by Wall Street, Main Street and Fannie/Freddie are fine as long as the government resists the temptation to bail them out when insolvency rears its ugly head. But as soon as the Federal Reserve, Congress and the administration began bailouts, it was clear that we were socializing losses to taxpayers and future generations.

Instead of relying on often dreadful and badly enforced regulation, the government and the Fed must make it clear that we have bankruptcy for enterprises that take risks and fail. Otherwise, we have a never-ending fiscal fiasco on our hands.

Regulation does not work, because the Fed had the power to prevent too-big-to-fail banks from forming with deposit rule, yet they chose to ignore them. As Treasury Secretary, Robert Rubin was influential in lifting the regulations that allowed Travelers and Citicorp to merge in 1998, creating the first TBTF bank, and then pushed for the repeal for the Glass-Steagall Act demonstrating that regulations can and will be changed.