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Congress has now enacted new rules to govern America’s huge banks, thus completing Washington’s response to the unbridled Wall Street greed that crashed the financial system and crushed our economy. The regulatory reforms were hailed by Democrats as possessing powerful cleansing power, while Republicans wailed that the new rules were overly caustic, imposing such a heavy-handed governmental scrub that the delicate layers of Wall Street innovation and profitability will be rubbed away.
Meanwhile, big bankers are grinning from ear to ear, for the bill requires no restructuring and decentralizing of the monopolistic grip that these giants have on America’s credit system. Thus, they still retain the power to rip off consumers, gamble with depositors’ money, haul in exorbitant profits, and pay themselves ungodly bonuses – all while remaining “too big to fail.”
Yes, the banking barons now have to adjust to stricter regulations, many of which are good and long overdue. But these guys are experts at slipping out of governmental leashes. JPMorgan Chase, for example, had 90 “project teams” plotting end runs around the regulations even before they were passed. Take electronic derivative trades, the casino game that caused the Wall Street implosion. Rather than outright banning them as an intolerable threat to our economy, Congress’ bill attaches a bunch of strings to the game, hoping to tie it down. But JPMorgan alone has long had more than 100 of its derivative traders and other casino technicians scheming to untie the strings – so you can bet they’ll keep their game going.
They won’t stop gaming the system until we fundamentally restructure Wall Street. The way you’ll know that real reform has come is that the bankers will have those grins wiped off their faces.