Saturday, February 13, 2010

We need more people in public service like Gary Gensler

I just read a great article about Gary Gensler, chairman of the CFTC (Commodity Futures Trading Commission) in Businessweek.

Gensler is an ex-Goldman Sachs partner and he's striving to make signficiant changes as to how derivatives are regulated. Tough changes.

The best quote from the article that sums up why we need more Gary Gensler's in government is this:
Over a private lunch at the Waldorf Astoria on Jan. 6, Gensler, 52, told executives from Credit Suisse (CS), Deutsche Bank (DB), Bank of New York Mellon (BK), and Goldman that while he once shared their goals—to boost revenues and their own bonuses—his responsibility now was to taxpayers, according to people familiar with the meeting. When one banker asked Gensler what he saw as the biggest obstacle to reform, he gestured toward his hosts and replied: "You."
Why should the general public care about these complex financial products? Because they helped to make the financial melt down worse. These are products that trade in the shadows, that lack a real transparent marketplace, which means there are big profits and big risks being taken.

Of course in proper Congressional fashion the legislation has loopholes in it that will allow the shenangans to continue. Gensler knows how the game is played and is calling people out on what's reality and what's false.
During agency discussions about rules on how firms trade and account for their transactions, "We've had times when someone says, 'The banks tell us they can't do that,' " Chilton recounts. "And Gary says, 'That's crazy. I used to do it all the time.' "
This blog post might make it sound like I'm anti-wealth, anti-profits. I am for wealth and profits, just not at the expense of the entire country.

It's fine to make a profit with you business, if you don't you go out of business. You go out of business maybe you wipe out your investors, you default on your loans, etc.

The difference with what we experienced on Wall Street was that they made profits, but when they went out of business they almost put the country out of business.

To put it another way, if you speed and drive recklessly on the highway you put yourself and drivers around you at risk. Most people who see that reckless driver coming will get out of the way, or they will avoid that road if it's filled with reckless drivers.

The entire country of drivers never saw that driver coming and weren't able to avoid that road. The driver wrecks and takes out all the drivers on the road.

Guess what?

Now your insurance preimiums just went up because it's a really bad wreck and that reckless driver didn't have insurance.