President Obama compares his “sweeping overhaul of the financial regulatory system” to FDR’s crackdown on Wall Street, but New York Times business columnist Joe Nocera isn’t buying it. “Everywhere you look in the plan, you see the same thing,” he writes. “Additional regulation on the margin, but nothing that amounts to a true overhaul.”
The problem, according to Nocera, is that Obama is unwilling to anger the bankers, and that just doesn’t make for very effective regulation.
Joe Nocera in The New York Times:
The plan places enormous trust in the judgment of the Federal Reserve — trust that critics say has not really been borne out by its actions during the Internet and housing bubbles. Firms will have to put up a little more capital, and deal with a little more oversight, but once the financial crisis is over, it will, in all likelihood, be back to business as usual.
The regulatory structure erected by Roosevelt during the Great Depression — including the creation of the Securities and Exchange Commission, the establishment of serious banking oversight, the guaranteeing of bank deposits and the passage of the Glass-Steagall Act, which separated banking from investment banking — lasted six decades before they started to crumble in the 1990s. In retrospect, it would be hard to envision even the best-constructed regulation lasting more than that. If Mr. Obama hopes to create a regulatory environment that stands for another six decades, he is going to have to do what Roosevelt did once upon a time. He is going to have make some bankers mad.