Obama seeks broad power to regulate risk

Rick Moran
The administration is not only seeking power to regulate risk across the board on Wall Street but also the ability to seize companies that, in the opinion of the Treasury Department, represent a risk to the American economy if they fail:

The administration's proposal contains two pieces. First, it would empower a government agency to take on the new role of systemic risk regulator with broad oversight of any and all financial firms whose failure could disrupt the broader economy. The Federal Reserve is widely considered to be the leading candidate for this assignment. But some critics warn that this could conflict with the Fed's other responsibilities, particularly its control over monetary policy.

The government also would assume the authority to seize such firms if they totter toward failure.

Besides seizing a company outright, the document states, the Treasury Secretary could use a range of tools to prevent its collapse, such as guaranteeing losses, buying assets or taking a partial ownership stake. Such authority also would allow the government to break contracts, such as the agreements to pay $165 million in bonuses to employees of AIG's most troubled unit.

The Treasury secretary could act only after consulting with the president and getting a recommendation from two-thirds of the Federal Reserve Board, according to the plan.

Now, I've been told that I am being hysterical when I point out that the government's ability to break contracts means simply that the "sanctity" of contracts no longer applies in America and that we are moving toward government by diktat. The fact that the government can "seize" (WaPo's word) a company heightens my concern. But don't mind me. I'm just an old fuddy-duddy who believes in stuff like "founding principles" and other outmoded, outdated concepts. So I hope you forgive me.

And you can bet that the whole idea of "risk-reward" on Wall Street and elsewhere will be pretty much thrown under the bus. Risky ventures will be a thing of the past. You will have to present a sure thing to venture capitalists in order to get funding - like creating a company that makes Obama dolls or framed portraits of our president. On the other hand, if you want to be the next Google, you will be SOL.

 

 



The administration is not only seeking power to regulate risk across the board on Wall Street but also the ability to seize companies that, in the opinion of the Treasury Department, represent a risk to the American economy if they fail:

The administration's proposal contains two pieces. First, it would empower a government agency to take on the new role of systemic risk regulator with broad oversight of any and all financial firms whose failure could disrupt the broader economy. The Federal Reserve is widely considered to be the leading candidate for this assignment. But some critics warn that this could conflict with the Fed's other responsibilities, particularly its control over monetary policy.

The government also would assume the authority to seize such firms if they totter toward failure.

Besides seizing a company outright, the document states, the Treasury Secretary could use a range of tools to prevent its collapse, such as guaranteeing losses, buying assets or taking a partial ownership stake. Such authority also would allow the government to break contracts, such as the agreements to pay $165 million in bonuses to employees of AIG's most troubled unit.

The Treasury secretary could act only after consulting with the president and getting a recommendation from two-thirds of the Federal Reserve Board, according to the plan.

Now, I've been told that I am being hysterical when I point out that the government's ability to break contracts means simply that the "sanctity" of contracts no longer applies in America and that we are moving toward government by diktat. The fact that the government can "seize" (WaPo's word) a company heightens my concern. But don't mind me. I'm just an old fuddy-duddy who believes in stuff like "founding principles" and other outmoded, outdated concepts. So I hope you forgive me.

And you can bet that the whole idea of "risk-reward" on Wall Street and elsewhere will be pretty much thrown under the bus. Risky ventures will be a thing of the past. You will have to present a sure thing to venture capitalists in order to get funding - like creating a company that makes Obama dolls or framed portraits of our president. On the other hand, if you want to be the next Google, you will be SOL.