I spoke today on the Morning Meeting about the four steps the government could take to fix the U.S. banking system and stop the ongoing and expanding corruption of our country. These simple solutions come from the litany of people that I speak with who seek to change the mega-casino our government has built during the past 10 years back to one built on investors, innovators and workers creating things that benefit society. Unfortunately, our current leaders want to take the easy road of sustaining the casino economy with what I like to call the Magic Money Machine. Except as with all magic, there's actually a trick; in this case, it is a large bill that will be left to those of us unfortunate enough to still be around when it comes due. Here are the four pieces of regulation that taxpayers should be demanding from their leaders:
1. Inject transparency, primarily to bring almost $600 trillion of crooked insurance scams to the forefront. Force almost all swaps onto exchanges, not just the 20% as current proposed reform does.
Secretary Geithner, Chairman Frank and Chairman Dodd are protecting the last of the Wall Street secret money-making schemes. They don't want to force transparency on this market because it would disclose the fraud this massive bank scheme is -- a taxpayer subsidized secret insurance market which sells cheap insurance to hedge funds, power and food and energy companies, and makes for huge profits at banks and insurance companies. Insurance and idle speculation in secret is a brilliant way for banks and other financial services companies to make money (who doesn't want to collect insurance premiums every month for something you'll never have to pay for?!) And a great way to make oil, food and electricity company CEOs richer as they pay less for their insurance. One problem -- they are all surfing on the taxpayers back to the tune of $24 trillion at risk last I checked -- and the U.S. government is the one letting them do it. Still. Now bigger than ever.
2. Demand capital to back Wall Street's gambling. As Tyler Durden at Zerohedge.com said about this clip from the show, do this and it is a guarantee that very few firms will have Goldman's trading pattern each and every quarter.
In Vegas, you need to have actual money to gamble. Your own money. It's crazy, but true. Even today, in many cases more than ever, U.S. banks use America's FDIC insured safe deposits to fund their own mad bonus-seeking speculation. Once the banks blow through that -- they borrow from the biggest money printing house in the world, the U.S. Federal Reserve to do the same thing. This is truly insane. The banks and their traders keep the upside. You, the taxpayer, keep the downside. No one else in the world can pay themselves billions to take infinite risk with little or no money down, except a big bank CEO. And we thought they were good at their jobs making all that money, when all they did was rig the game using our government to do it.
3. Enact a tax-code to encourage long-term investment and discourage short-term profit. Fortunes should not be made in minutes but over years through the creation of value to society.
As long as the easiest way for a man or woman to make money is to spend their day clicking for dollars, why would they bother doing all the work of investing in the long-term economic development of private business in America? Tax code in general should encourage investment, jobs, and innovation in America and discourage idle speculation as the easiest way for a college kid to get rich. There are sensible ways to use tax policy to encourage this that do not hamper liquidity.
4. Break up the Too Big To Fail banking institutions. Start with Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan. Right Now.
How do you expect any other business to compete with the chosen few who are guaranteed profits? The more risk they take, the more they make. Why do you think they invented a fake $600 Trillion secret derivative market in the first place? Bigger bonuses baby. All upside. No downside. Thank you Uncle Sam. Thank you Secretary Geithner.