Saturday, July 3, 2010

Two names that will forever live in infamy?

Thomas Donlan, writing in today’s Barron’s:

There is something in the financial-services bill for almost every interest, but the real winners are the cynics who think Congress can't do anything right. The monster that crawled out of the conference committee on June 25 has about 2,300 pages. …

The Chamber of Commerce counted 355 potential new agency rule-makings, 47 studies and 74 reports required by the bill. The infamous Sarbanes-Oxley law of 2002 — the previous congressional exercise in futile corporate regulation — demanded only 16 rule-makings and six studies.

The big issues will remain untouchable.

What is to be done with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? … Converting Fannie and Freddie to Feddie hasn't stopped them from losing more tens of billions of dollars on bad loans, and it hasn't brought order and good sense to the housing market.

What is to be done with the banks and corporate financial subsidiaries that are too big to fail, too big to succeed and too big to regulate? They must carry on like lemmings who haven't yet reached the cliff.

What is to be done with risky banks? Pretend they aren't risky.

If the bill becomes widely known as Dodd-Frank, then maybe Sen. Christopher Dodd, D., Conn., and Rep. Barney Frank, D., Mass., finally will acquire the reputations they so richly deserve. It happened to former Sen. Paul Sarbanes, D., Md., and former Rep. Michael Oxley, R., Ohio. Their Sarbanes-Oxley "reform" of corporate accounting and other issues has turned out to be an expensive failure, blighting their names for the history books. Dodd and Frank deserve the same, only more so.
The latest in a series of outsourced economic criticism as a cost-cutting move.

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