Due Diligence

Dodd-Frank Just Another Swindle, says Taibbi In Latest Screed

Do your clients read Rolling Stone magazine? Certainly some your future clients do, and maybe even a few current clients. You might want to check in occasionally, too. After all, Matt Taibbi, perhaps the financial services industry's most outraged and silver-tongued critic, has been howling about the giant swindle that is Wall Street in its pages for the past two years. In his latest column, he takes down the Dodd-Frank law and describes in colorful detail (warning: there's plenty of salty language) some of the backroom political dealing that defanged it. It is an entertaining read, even if the information in his story is not entirely new.

A sample: "If the Volcker rule was a regulatory Godzilla threatening to stomp out Wall Street's self-serving investments, the proposal to shut down derivatives was nothing short of a planet-smashing asteroid headed straight at the heart of the financial industry's most reckless abuses. The key battle involved the so-called "Lincoln rule," put forward by Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, which would have forced big banks to spin off their derivatives desks in the same way the Volcker rule would have forced them to give up proprietary trading. Banks would have to make a choice: Either forgo access to the cheap cash of the Federal Reserve, or give up gambling with dangerous instruments like credit-default swaps. Banks, in short, would have to go back to making money the old-fashioned way – making smart loans, underwriting new businesses, earning simple fees on customer trades. No more leveraged gambling on whacked-out acid-trip derivatives deals, no more walking around with torches and taking out fire insurance on other people's houses, no more running up huge markers on the taxpayer's dime.

"This, obviously, could not be permitted. Thanks to Clinton-era deregulation, the market for derivatives is now 100 times larger than the federal budget, and five of the country's biggest banks control more than 90 percent of the business. So the leadership of both parties pulled out all the stops to ensure that the Lincoln rule would be Swiss-cheesed to death before it ever saw the light of day."

Click here for the full screed.

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