Two more adminstration posts were announced this week by the White House, for Transportation Secretary and for a federal housing post; the first of these was the announcement that outgoing Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx has been picked to become the next Secretary of Transportation, which is currently run by former congressman Ray LaHood. Foxx’s appointment should be a boon for transit supporters considering his efforts to expand transit options in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg area over the past few years. On this one, barring anything spectacular, there shouldn’t be any problems on this nomination.
The second one, though, might be….yesterday, Pres. Obama nominated Charlotte-area Rep. Mel Watt(D-NC 12) to run the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Now, there’s two reason why this nomination might run into problems over in the Senate. The first of these is an obvious no-brainer: the FHFA supervises both Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac, government-supported agencies which didn’t exactly account themselves very well during the late 2000’s mortgage crisis and which still both receive flak over to this day. Throw in the fact that Congressman Watt will be running a very technical agency despite not having a lot of banking/finance experience and you have the makings of a grade-A train wreck; to be fair, though, in this day and age, I’m not too concerned about this reason since most every nomination goes through a major vetting process…if there had been any concerns or problems with Watt’s background in this regard, they’d found it by now.
There’s also a third reason why Watt’s nomination might run into the proverbial rocks’n’shoals of the Senate confirmation process: since Sept. 2009, the FHFA has been run by Acting Director Edward DeMarco, a Bush-43 appointee and word in Washington circles is that Senate Republicans are loathe to allow Obama to replace him with someone of his own choosing; case in point being when Republicans back in 2010 blocked the nomination of NC Banking Commissioner Joseph Smith to the post. However, considering that Obama has the support of former Bank of America major-domo Hugh McCall and former Clinton-era advisor Erskine Bowles, for starters, Watt might not have as rough a go at the nominating process as Smith did.
If a bank is either, (a)too-big-to-fail, (b)too-big-to-send-the bankers-to-jail, or (c) both, then they damn well should be broken up…quoting a HuffPost article by VT Sen. Bernie Sanders:
Breaking up the too big to fail financial institutions is a notion that has drawn support from some leading figures in the financial community. Richard Fisher, president of the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank, wrote this: “The safer the individual banks, the safer the financial system. The ultimate destination — an economy relatively free from financial crises — won’t be reached until we have the fortitude to break up the giant banks.” James Bullard, the head of the St. Louis Fed, also weighed in. “I do kind of agree that ‘too big to fail’ is ‘too big to exist.'” Thomas Hoenig, the former Kansas City Fed president, was an early supporter of the idea of breaking up big U.S. banks. “I think [too big to fail banks] should be broken up. And in doing so, I think you’ll make the financial system itself more stable. I think you will make it more competitive, and I think you will have long-run benefits over our current system, which leads to bailouts when crises occur.”
In my view, no single financial institution should be so large that its failure would cause catastrophic risk to millions of American jobs or to our nation’s economic wellbeing. No single financial institution should have holdings so extensive that its failure could send the world economy into crisis. And, perhaps most importantly, no institution in America should be above the law. We need to break up these institutions because of the tremendous damage they have done to our economy.(Daily Kos)
For what it’s worth, they can start with Bank of America & Wells Fargo; both of ’em are based here in North Carolina and they spare no expense screwing over customers at any opportunity…
Why can’t we have consumer champions in Washington like Elizabeth Warren?
Elizabeth Warren rose to national prominence as an outspoken consumer advocate decrying Wall Street abuses and became the progressive movement’s darling candidate in last fall’s Senate elections. Like most freshman lawmakers, the Massachusetts Democrat has maintained a low profile during her first few months in office.
That’s starting to change.
Warren, who championed the creation of the new Consumer Financial Protection Board after the mortgage-led financial meltdown five years ago, is beginning to use her Senate Banking Committee perch to push regulators for tougher actions against errant banks.
Warren questioned senior Treasury Department officials Thursday about why there was no criminal prosecution for alleged money laundering by British bank HSBC and no effort to shut it down. HSBC agreed last December to pay a forfeiture and penalties totaling $1.9 billion to settle charges it helped Mexican drug traffickers, Iran and Libya move money around the world.
“What does it take, how many billions of dollars do you have to launder from drug lords and how many economic sanctions do you have to violate before someone will consider shutting down a financial institution?” Warren asked at a Banking Committee hearing on money laundering.
That bold, italicized quote should become a staple question for every liberal and progressive in America in the following sense: what is it going to take before government regulators start actually doing their damned jobs instead of kow-towing to Wall Street? Are we going to have to have another financial meltdown first before it happens?
All things being equal, its’ nowhere near what they should paid for all the financial shenanigans the major banks & financial institutions have committed over the past few years, but it’s a start…CNN Money:
From laundering money for Iran, to manipulating interest rates paid by consumers and businesses, to improperly foreclosing on homeowners, misdeeds cost the banks a record of more than $10.7 billion in fines this year.
When UBS agreed earlier this month to pay U.S. authorities $1.2 billion for manipulating Libor, it capped a record year for bank fines. And the total includes only what the banks paid to U.S. and state authorities, not billions more these global banks also agreed to pay European regulators.
Slightly more than half of the fines were related to improper mortgage practices, and most of that money was earmarked to provide help to the victims.
For what it’s worth, the fines should’ve been a lot worse…but it is a start.