While there are a lot of people you can blame for the state of the US economy, government regulators are at the top of the list. So it’s satisfying that someone has finally taken them to task. Elizabeth Warren, finally on the Senate Banking Committee where she belongs, had some hard questions for banking regulators yesterday, specifically on why they are happy to accept pennies on the dollar to settle claims against banks.
What she got in response was a lot of hemming and hawing by the spineless regulators in question, none of whom seemed to know the last time anyone took a bank to trial.
I’m a little concerned that too big to fail has become too big for trial.
“Banks also have benefited from the large increase during the recession in unemployment insurance. Increasingly, banks offer debit cards to the unemployed to collect their government benefits. These debit cards carry a range of fees that bolster banks’ bottom lines. What’s more, states — with their budgets shattered by the financial crisis and recession — have increasingly been moving to enroll new employees into Wall Street-run retirement accounts rather than government pension programs. That’s potentially more lucrative for Wall Street, which can charge fees for managing the savings of individual retirees.”
This American Life has done two excellent shows to help ordinary folks like you and me understand the morass that is the U.S. economy.
A few months ago, in The Giant Pool of Money, Ira Glass and his crew explained the link between the housing crisis, the turmoil on Wall Street, subprime lending, and more. Follow the link for the full show.
Today, TAL returned to the economy, trying to unpack the meltdown and figure out whether the country needs to bail out Wall Street, or not. Some key conclusions:
If all that sounds like gibberish, listen to This American Life’s Another Frightening Show About the Economy. It was all gibberish to me before I listened to that show, too.
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