02 July 2015

Elizabeth Warren: The 14 Trillion Dollar Scam and the Unfinished Business of Financial Reform

1.  Financial Institutions should not be allowed to cheat people through confusing and complex products, or just plain lying about credit cards and mortgages.
2.  Financial Institutions should not be allowed to use taxpayers to pick up their risks through deposits or bailouts.

We know what needs to be done.   Big financial institutions are flexing their political power to keep us from doing it, and to undermine what has already been attempted.

Auto loans now look like the pre-crisis mortgage market because they were exempted by Congress from Consumer Financial Protection Bureau oversight.

Department of Justice relies on deferred prosecutions and does not take repeat offending institutions to trial, and the SEC is even worse.  They are abusing a system that was designed for low level non-violent offenders.

It is time to end the slap on the wrist culture at DOJ and SEC.  Fines should be equal, at a minimum, to every dime of profits gained, and there should be an independent judicial review of these deals.

It is time for the Fed to make enforcement a top priority.  Big financial institutions have every incentive to commit large financial offenses, and that is what they do.  They rig global markets, and launder criminal funds and help the very wealthy to engage in tax cheating.

Dodd-Frank did not end 'too big to fail.'  We need to stop talking about it and break up the Big Banks now, and force them to face the consequences of their own investment decisions.  Too much of a technocratic approach is undermined over time, favoring a few well-connected, lawyered-up firms over time.   What is needed is a structural approach, not a heavier layer of regulation.  We need a new Glass-Steagall Law. 

Congress must be able to limit the Fed's emergency lending of subsidized loans to global financial institutions without oversight.

Reforming the tax laws is critical to effective reform.  Corporations are incented for short term thinking and using stock buybacks to manipulate price performance.   The tax code incents Banks to engage in higher leverage and lower capitalization.

High Frequency Traders introduce more volatility without adding value.  A targeted financial transaction tax would curb this without affecting mom and pop investors.

The shadow banking system is unregulated and open to serious short term financial risk before the next Lehman or Bear Stearns starts another financial crisis.

The system is rigged, and those that rigged it want to keep it that way.