Any one doubting that there are two competing gangs in politics…
Where’s Eliot Spitzer Now That We Need Him?
By MIKE WHITNEY
The former governor of New York might have some rocky moments in his confirmation hearings, but if Obama really wanted to police Wall St – which of course he doesn’t – he’d replace current SEC chief Mary Schapiro with Eliot Spitzer. Schapiro is another Wall Street toady who believes that the markets can regulate themselves. As the head of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, or Finra, she stood by while the financial giants increased their leverage to unsustainable levels and spread their derivatives-contagion to every part of the system.
Schapiro also missed the Madoff scandal, the auction-rate bond fraud, the blow up at Lehman Brothers, and the mortgage meltdown. She was blindsided at every turn. Her dismal performance as a private-sector regulator proves that she’s the wrong person for the job. Even the far-right Wall Street Journal has lambasted Schapiro. In an article titled “Obama’s pick to head SEC has record of being a Regulator with a Light Touch” the WSJ relayed this revealing anecdote:
The Financial Services Institute, a trade group, was meeting, and Ms. Schapiro addressed the crowd about Finra’s efforts to fight frauds aimed at senior citizens. Frank Congemi, a financial adviser, asked what Finra was doing to regulate “packaged products” such as complex mortgage securities. Mr. Congemi says that Ms. Schapiro replied: “We have rating agencies that rate them.” The credit-rating agencies, by this time, were being heavily criticized for having given triple-A ratings to mortgage bonds that became unsalable as foreclosures rose.
Mr. Congemi says that at the May 7 meeting he retorted: “What is that going to do to markets and people’s trust when these things go to zero?” He says Ms. Schapiro replied that she couldn’t answer hypothetical questions. (Wall Street Journal, Obama’s pick to head SEC has record of being a Regulator with a Light Touch”)
This story sums up Schapiro’s do-nothing attitude perfectly. She’s doomed to follow in the footsteps of her feckless predecessor, Christopher Cox, who stuck his head in the sand while the five biggest investment banks levered up to 30 to 1 and brought the whole global house of cards crashing to earth. Schapiro will undoubtedly torpedo any effort to police the markets or to bring charges against any of the Wall Street Godfathers.