Thursday, April 22, 2010

Further Reform is NOT What We Need

The battle cry for further reform echoes through the corridors of finance and the committee rooms of government bureaucracies.
Not enough Regulation? GIVE YOUR HEAD A SHAKE.

Enron et al, Madoff, Robert Stanford, AIG, Bernie Ebbers, AIG, Lehman, Goldman: all were in the headlights of various regulatory bodies for extensive periods of time before being indicted by the various regulatory bodies. It is not lack of regulation--it is the failure of regulators to do their jobs properly that is the problem. If regulators are not able to carry out their duties under the current regulatory system--another layer of bureaucratic entanglements will not remedy the problem that has become pervasive in our society.
Indeed, financial reform is needed, but is needed to update a system that has not undergone any substantive changes since The New Deal. Much has changed since the 1930s although the root of the problem has not: A lack of moral character exhibited by many individuals in positions of power.
Regulation is a poor replacement for morality but it is the only tool that can be used to maintain a semblance of honesty, accountability and transparency in the financial system. Until corporations and governments embrace and promote the cultivation of moral character in both private sector leadership and regulatory bodies nothing will be solved in eradicating the self-destructive behavior demonstrated by so many individuals and groups in contemporary society.
Morality is what is missing not regulation. They are not the same thing--regulation is merely a somewhat inferior substitute of the former.

Here is a partial list of US Financial and Regulatory Agencies

Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC)

Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)

Federal Reserve Board

Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC)

Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS)

Security & Exchange Commission (SEC)

The problem currently encountered on Wall Street have been faced previously--and have been dealt with in an effective manner. Below is William K. Black's testimony to Congress with regard to the Lehman debacle.

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