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Fiddling with financial oversight
Grading Obama’s plan to clean up the alphabet soup of financial regulators
 

President Obama is outlining his “scaled back” plan to reshape the financial system Wednesday, said Declan McCullagh in CBS News Econwatch. Thanks to “assiduously” leaked details, we know that he wants the Federal Reserve to have more power, the Office of Thrift Supervision to disappear, and a new Consumer Finance Protection Agency to sprout up among the poorly weeded “crop of regulatory agencies” in Washington.

If, like me, you were hoping that Obama would downsize and rationalize the “alphabet soup of regulators,” said Felix Salmon in Reuters, this plan is “a bust.” There are some good ideas tucked in the proposed overhaul, but the gist of it is that there’s nothing wrong with our financial oversight that can’t be fixed by another layer of bureaucracy.

Obama could be tamping down expectations before he unveils better-than-expected policy proposals, said Ezra Klein in The Washington Post, but “I’m increasingly pessimistic on the success of the whole endeavor.” If Congress passes anything, much less anything worthwhile, it reportedly won’t be until sometime next year. With the economy recovering, and the banking lobby batting 1,000, any momentum for reform will be long gone in 12 months.

Good, said Tony Blankley in RealClearPolitics. If the financial system is the brain of the economy, “heavy regulation is its lobotomy.” In trying to design a system to fight the last war—in which “‘greedy’ and impetus-excessive financial risk takers” were the enemy—Obama risks worsening the next one, where the main problem will be stagnant lending in an overly risk-averse market.

 

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