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Friday, January 22, 2010

Reform Shorthand: Where's Volcker Standing?

The Wall Street Journal's Take on Wall Street

President Barack Obama proposed new limits on the size and activities of the nation's largest banks, pushing a more muscular approach toward regulation that yanked down bank stocks and raised the stakes in his campaign to show he's tough on Wall Street.

--"New Bank Rules Sink Stocks"; The Wall Street Journal (1/22/2010)

So, government's iron fist is once again coming down (too) hard on private enterprise, imposing (more) bureaucratic red tape on businesses, and hurting job growth and the stock market.


Umm . . . well . . . not exactly.

If the Journal had asked me to re-write the lead, here's what I would have said instead:

President Obama belatedly announced the first, limited steps to address the root causes of today's economic melt-down: reckless Wall Street banks that have required trillions in taxpayer bailouts to deal with the consequences of their highly leveraged, bad bets -- bets that have caused millions of Americans to lose their jobs, savings and homes.

In other economic news yesterday, Goldman Sachs announced blowout earnings from . . . making more, reckless bets with taxpayers' money.

In my opinion, the only thing worse than 'governing-by-poll' is 'governing-by-Dow-Jones,' i.e., doing whatever makes the stock market go up, and refraining from whatever makes it go down -- at least in the short run.

With the market now down a couple hundred points in the wake of the newly announced bank "reforms," it will be interesting to see if Obama sticks to his guns.

P.S.: want a short-hand way to tell? Figure out how close (or far) Paul Volcker is standing from him (yesterday, he was standing at his side).

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