A year and a day after the collapse of Lehman Brothers, everybody—really, every single person I’ve heard comment from—is lamenting the lack of financial reform on Wall Street.
Healthcare reform continues to occupy the Congress, who must ultimately pass financial regulation into law, and the President’s financial guys, former Wall Streeters themselves, have stepped in to save insolvent banks from their (nearly-but-for-the-grace-of-God) self-destructive gambling.
In his testimony to Congress one year ago, former Fed chairman Greenspan admitted his faith in self-regulation had blinded him to the looming housing crisis and other abusive financial practices like credit default swaps. To date, no new financial regulations have been passed into law, the onus for regulation again resting on the same industry that has continually shrugged it off.
Joseph Stiglitz, more progressive than the President’s Wall Street Treasury, writes in the Guardian that large banks have more incentive than ever to take crazy risks. The danger Obama warned of yesterday amounts to a culture of impunity around large, politically embedded banks.
Elizabeth Warren, head of the Congressional Oversight Panel on TARP funds, appears regularly on the best blog I’ve seen following the bailout of Wall Street. But Stiglitz is a Nobel economist and Warren a Harvard law professor. Thank God for their voices, but they operate within their own particular institutions and speak to a particular audience.
Enter the local journalist. In explaining how “alternative media” foresaw the financial crisis, a thorough comment from the Columbia Journalism Review succinctly states the problem of analyzing the financial crisis: It’s not about being better journalists; it’s about being tuned to a different audience and set of interests.
America’s GDP will rise this quarter, thus according to those who are tuned into the financial audience with its numerical set of interests, we are coming out of recession. Except that we are not. We are paying higher interest rates on our credit cards even though we’ve been responsible about paying down our debt. One woman is being civilly disobedient, respectfully refusing to be a victim of Bank of America.