I’ve been jawboning a fair amount about regulation lately, and a lot of you are getting in on the conversation. I always, always read every comment that’s posted here and I thank all of you for participating.
As a quick sidebar, let me say, you all are not a small group. Close to 200,000 people get Wall Street Insights & Indictments in their mailboxes every Thursday and Sunday morning, and that’s just the ones we send it to. WSII is picked up elsewhere and forwarded many times over. So, when you comment, your participation is noted far and wide.
You are becoming stars in the great galaxy known as “freedom of speech,” and I thank you for all your efforts. You make our conversations two-sided and always more robust.
So, in light of many comments that relate to me wanting more regulation, this morning I want to make myself clear, as in clearer. I am not for more regulation. I am for more-better regulations – as in “mobetter.”
Why mobetter? Because the only real way to give regulations real force and power is to make them:
- simpler (so the long and windy road of legal-speak can’t be manipulated or loopholed to death),
- more concise (so people actually understand what they’re reading and don’t have to hire teams of lawyers to read it to them, or hire them to find loophole side streets to meander down),
- and with cut-and-dried penalties.
If we can reconvene regulations down to be mobetter, we won’t always be singing the mobetter blues when bank crooks get away with their schemes by settling instead of being driven out of business and to jail.
Cases in point (make that just a few of the cases we know about)…
MF Global: Lying, cheating, stealing, and gross mismanagement. Client losses: well over a billion dollars and counting. No nothing: no case, no charges, no fines, no jail time, NO JUSTICE.
JPMorgan Chase: Lying to and hiding “whale” trading losses from over 100 regulators who are in their offices and watching over them. No fines, no repercussions, a couple of folks retiring early, maybe a job loss or two. We can only hope this ain’t over in terms of mobetter scrutiny of all the deceit and potential fraud attendant here. Standing by.
Barclays: Libor manipulation. $455 million paid, one job lost, no jail time.
ING Bank: Essentially aiding and abetting money transfers through New York money center facilities on behalf of “Enemies of the State” (that would be our state), also known as “sponsors of terror” and “rogue regimes.” Fine of $619 million (a record fine, whoopdee do!). No jobs lost, no jail time, and probably a few weapons of mass destruction bought and paid for by check or wire out of accounts shepherded by ING.
Wells Fargo: Discriminated against African-American and Hispanic borrowers by charging the least able to pay the most for mortgages. $175 million settlement. No guilty plea necessary (neither admit nor deny… ever), no jobs lost, no jail time.
Capitol One: Deceptive marketing; getting desperate credit card borrowers to pay for add-ons they didn’t need or want by lying to them when they called to activate new cards. Damages and fines: $210 million. Chalk up one, their first ever, for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; the best thing to come out of Dodd-dumb-Frank. Still, no jobs lost, nor jail time.
Of course, we could go on and on, like adding HSBC money laundering, PFG Financial fraud and theft, Countrywide discrimination (that’s where Wells said they learned their tricks), Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs… all of them pretty much have been found to be liars, cheats, essentially crooks and what we might otherwise call criminals.
But they’re not, you see, because they’re never guilty, because we don’t have mobetter regulations.
That’s my indictment for today.
I have some insights, and you aren’t going to like them, but you REALLY need to hear them. You’re going to want to protect yourselves from what’s about to get really bad.
I just don’t want to ruin your Sunday, so you’ll have to wait. And, besides, the British Open is on.