Monday, May 18, 2009

Geither's Fast vs. Volker's Measured Reform

Paul Volker, Chair of President Obama's Economic Recovery Advisory Board, encouraged the administration to take a cautious approach to financial regulation. Treasury Chief Tim Geithner wants to strike while the financial reform iron is hot. Geithner said:

"You want to move at a point where people still have the memory of the trauma. If you wait for the memory to fade, then the impetus for reform will fade and you probably get less change than you need."
Funny, Tim didn't mention Treasury's allowing private equity underwriters to buy U.S. thrifts, savings & loans and credit unions. Are banks far behind? Tim did side with CEO's, suggesting no restrictions on executive pay. My memory hasn't faded on the role of greed and leverage in last fall's Wall Street implosion. CEO incentive pay played a clear role. Tim's fast in some areas and slow in others, especially those involving his Wall Street chums.

Volker's committee got the usual Obama problem engorgement. President Obama's team frequently makes problems larger as it attempts to address them. Israeli/Palestinian peace is contingent upon Iran.

The Economic Recovery Board and its subcommittees have to address jobs, energy, financial markets and regulation, housing, & retirement. As if that wasn't enough Obama charged the board with coming up with tax change proposals by December. The ERB meets quarterly, with their first official meeting this Wednesday.