It is good to see Congress getting serious about a real dialogue regarding financial reform. In the interest of full disclosure, I live in a banking home in a big banking town with lots of friends that work in the Wall Street world. In my public accounting life, I worked with financial institutions. I am not an unbiased observer. But, I do firmly believe that we need reform in how Wall Street operates. No one can look at the last 20 years and say anything else unless they have a personal agenda.
This is not the right forum for discussing what reforms are needed but the process by which we see those reforms being developed is fair game. We have seen extremes. Many ideas have been debated. Goldman has been charged in a civil suit. A criminal investigation of their operating practices is underway. Many cases that we have long forgotten are still pending. Some stem from the Bank of America - Merrill Lynch merger. The investigations into the Countrywide loan processes are gaining momentum again. The same is true with WaMu (who I have a mortgage with) and Golden West. I don't think any of that is relevant to what we are seeing in Congress. The gap between Main Street and Wall Street has never seemed bigger in my life and I must admit that I actually feel closer to Main Street than the investment bankers today. That is hard for a fairly conservative, free market advocate to admit.
The process is what matters to me and is what I find fascinating and encouraging. Congress is just about the most beaten up institution in America today. They please no one as evidenced by their ratings from the public. But, in the case of financial reform, they are actually doing their job and doing it well. We aren't hearing much out of the House right now but the Senate is very visible on this issue. Bills are coming out of multiple committees and are all over the board in theory. I think that is good.
I don't see a single idea in Congress or lawsuit pending in the courts that is without merit for debate. I don't agree with all of them but in most cases where I disagree, they involve very complex issues that I think are being misrepresented. What is good is that our political system is working. Congress is having a reasonable debate on what is good for the future of our financial system and our economy. They are legitimately working to find a middle ground where reform is effective. The legal system is looking at what appear to be things that need a second look. I may not agree with the ideas or allegations but I am encouraged that the process is working.
Our current political environment is toxic and that is not good for anyone. The same is true with the press coverage of the Wall Street lawsuit of the day. For business to work in America, and without business working the country doesn't work, we need healthy debate and legal oversight like we are seeing today. The way Wall Street has operated for the last generation is not good for America or the world. They have moved from a business model based upon an advisory capacity to a player in the game. That can't come without conflicts of interest that need to be controlled. All of us have paid a dear price to learn that lesson but the fact that our society is working to control it and having a healthy debate on how to effect such control is the best example of democracy at work that we have seen out of our government in a long time. My hat goes off to all involved.
My faith in our government is coming back and I trust they will see this process through to a conclusion that allows small business owners to thrive.
Thanks for reading.