12 June 2013

And While We Are On the Subject of Obama and Subverting Regulation………

Gary Gensler surprised everyone when, as head of the CFTC, he actually enforced sensible rules.

So it it comes no surprise that Obama is firing him and replacing him with a corporate drone from the Vampire Squid:
Obama is no longer bothering to pretend that he is anything other than a stooge for banks and other big money interests.

The president is effectively dismissing Gary Gensler, the ex-Goldman partner who headed the Commodities Futures Trading Commission. Gensler used his post at a secondary financial regulator to push for reforms. It was his office that blew the Libor scandal wide open by taking referrals from British regulators seriously (by contrast, Geithner, who heard about widespread, deliberate mismarking in 2008, passed the buck to the Bank of England). Gensler has also been making himself unpopular by taking the view that swap dealers, which includes foreign branches of US banks and parties that conduct business with US parties, must comply with Dodd Frank. ………

Shahien Nasiripour at the Huffington Post describes how Gensler is being ousted for his position on swaps regulation, which was coming to a head in international meetings starting June 20, with a July 12 deadline looming. The industry was pushing for the usual “race to the bottom” approach, since the Dodd Frank provisions are more stringent than overseas requirments (the spin, of course, was that Gensler was acting unilaterally, as opposed to implementing what Congress mandated). Gensler faces varying degrees of resistance from three of his four fellow commissioners. International regulators were apparently also unhappy with Gensler’s tough stand, to the point where they were complaining to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew.

Even if Obama fails in fast-tracking his chosen replacement, Amanda Renteria, Gensler’s lame-duck status will considerably weaken his ability to arm-twist the fence-sitters among his colleagues.

And Renteria is a simply pathetic choice. Oh, she’s got a very appealing personal story, having worked her way up from a very disadvantaged background, a child of migrant workers who made her way to Stanford and later Harvard Business School. But there’s nothing in her background that qualifies her to act either as a senior regulator or as the head of a large operation (the CFTC has over 400 employees). This leap in responsibilities is tantamount to taking a promising law firm associate and making them the head of a large law practice. You’d never do that if you cared about the health of the firm. A move like this looks an awful lot like an effort not just to sideline Gensler’s push on swaps regulation, but to render the CFTC incompetent over time.

Renteria’s knowledge of finance appears to consist of having worked right after college for a few years at Goldman. ………
And to this we add the bonus story that Barack Obama has nominated Walmart's biggest fan to head his council of economic advisors:
On June 10, 2013, President Obama announced his intention to nominate Jason Furman to become the next chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. This is a big-time, highly influential post. So what kind of economist is Furman?

One who thinks Walmart is the best thing since sliced bread.

For Furman, Walmart is nothing short of a miracle for America’s poor and working-class folks. For him, progressives should be cheering the firm: he even wrote a 16-page paper titled, “Wal-Mart: A Progressive Success Story,” which was posted on the Center for American Progress website. ………

In Furman’s view, “the US productivity miracle and the emergence of Wal-Mart-style retailing are virtually synonymous.”

For the man who will have President Obama’s ear on vital matters like jobs, the evidence of whether Walmart’s wages and benefits are substandard is “murky.” And he doesn’t much care for those who question Walmart’s approach: In the 2006 dialogue with Ehrenreich on Slate, he upbraided activists who had pushed the firm to increase wages and offer better benefits:………
To complete the finger in the eye, the American Enterprise Institute has issued effusive praise on the choice.

I'm not surprised.  I'm disappointed, but not surprised.

Obama loves hippie punching.


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