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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Mike Konczal: An Interview With Occupy The SEC

February 13 was an important deadline for comment letters relating to the implementation of the Volcker Rule. One group that submitted a comment letter was Occupy the SEC, an Occupy Wall Street-affiliated working group that has an excellent web presence outlining their objectives. The site also includes their comment letter (available as a pdf here) — all 325 pages of it.

Felix Salmon, Matt Yglesias, Swampland, The Nation, Josh Harkinson, and Dave Dayen, among many others, have all said great things about it. I was most impressed with the point-by-point, aggressive answering of the regulators’ questions — the stuff that can make a difference. Felix suggests reading the introduction if nothing else, particularly pages 3-6, and I agree.

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  • backlash

    It is very encouraging to me to see such depth of thought and commitment to this subject, that so many of us have so little understanding of yet we see the extreme danger to all of us and our way of life. Thank you for teaching us!

  • Common Sense Patriot

    Despite the Republican call for less regulation that gets in the way of business being able to operate (and I’m an Independent who usually votes Republican) — the fact is that business is just too big (and that’s not going to change in today’s world economy – though I think we should dust off the Anti-Monopoloy and Trust Busting legislation and reduce the size of some of the financial institutions that are considered “Too Big to Fail”). Our problem, however, is not so much that there is too much regulation but that the regulators seem to be blind, deaf, and dumb. Either that or they’ve sold out to the very corporations they are supposed to be regulating so they can follow the revolving door from a government job to a high paying job in the same companies they were supposed to regulate — basically bribery and corruption). Ex-Congressmen and Congressional staffers do it every day. Jack Abramov, the convicted Wall Street lobbyist, noted that the easiest way to influence Congressional reps and their staff is to offer them a job in the private sector “when they decide to make a change.” That’s downright corruption and bribery. Look at the Bernie Madoff scandal. Was the SEC asleep? What about the MF Global scandal? They literally stole millions from pension funds and farmers. How many prosecutions have there been for the 2007-2008 financial meltdown that led to the Great Recession and put 14 million people (26 million if you count the underemployed or those who’ve given up looking for work) out of work. Congress started this with the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act through the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. This took down the separations between investment banks, commerical banks and insurance companies – which led directly to the selling of risky derivatives and the whole mortgage fiasco. But again, where was the SEC? Where was the Commodities Futures Trading Commission? And there are banking regulators, both state and federal, who never so much as raised an alarm at what they must have been seeing on the bank’s books. The Fed dropped the ball on that one (though they have no power to regulate Wall Street). I don’t think the debate is about whether we have too much regulation, whether the Voker rule is good or bad, but how do you get the regulators to do their jobs? And how do you get federal and state prosecutors to go after the violators? Some house cleaning needs to be done and there needs to be some strong, enforced ethics rules for all those involved. How can we tell if there is too much regulation when the regulators aren’t even doing their jobs on the big things? Let’s not worry about the small stuff. Let’s focus on the big questions that put us into an economic tailspin!