Want a solution to Wall Street? Return to free market principles


Over at the Washington Post Wonk Blog, Suzy Khimm discusses how the next four years may look like regarding reformation of Wall Street’s machinations:

Four years ago, President Obama was sworn in as a financial crisis was still engulfing the markets and the economy. Now he can point to a Wall Street overhaul that he helped push through Congress, intended to prevent such a meltdown from happening again. But to a large extent, the real impact of those financial reforms will depend on what happens over the next four years.

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act passed in the summer of 2010, but more than half of the new rules have yet to take effect. The law created a blueprint for the most sweeping rules, which the Treasury Department, Federal Reserve and individual agencies still have to write.

Dodd-Frank includes hundreds of required rules, but most have yet to be written. This has not stopped some in Washington from pushing for more government oversight of Wall Street:

Such rules are intended, in part, to prevent “Too Big to Fail” from happening again — having firms that are so big and intertwined with the rest of the financial market that the government must step in to bail them out if they’re melting down. But there are already indications that some officials believe that more has to be done to prevent risky bank meltdowns and taxpayer bailouts.

Dan Tarullo, one of the governors on the Federal Reserve Board, has called for regulators to impose stricter capital requirements on banks — which could possibly require additional legislation. The new director of the FDIC, Tom Hoenig, has long pushed for big banks to be broken up.

It’s unclear whether Obama and his allies will have the appetite to do more when Dodd-Frank hasn’t been finalized. Certainly there is some bipartisan interest in examining some of these questions, which could fuel proposals to modify or add to Dodd-Frank. As my colleague Danielle Douglas reported this month, “The Senate unanimously passed a bill that would direct the Government Accountability Office to examine the economic benefits large banks receive for being ‘too big to fail,’ ” co-sponsored by the unlikely duo of Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).

Looking back, government oversight and intervention into Wall Street has not done much to help the American people. As pointed out by this blog in December, Too Big To Fail has become Too Big To Jail for some connected Wall Street firms. And who can forget former New Jersey governor Jon Corzine, an Obama campaign bundler who inexplicably “lost” $1.6 billion in investor funds and thus far gotten away almost unscathed, or the hundreds of billions of dollars in tax credits and bailout money Goldman Sachs, AIG, and other companies received after the 2008 crash?

The best solution to “fix” Wall Street is a simple one: get the federal government almost entirely out of the way. No more bailouts. No more special interest tax credits. No more revolving door from Wall Street to the Federal Reserve and/or the Treasury. We need to go back to a government by the people, for the people, not a government for the banks by the banks. So far, the Obama Administration has done little to make any of these a reality, which means Too Big To Fail will continue to be official policy of the United States of America.