By now, we're almost as sick of writing about Wall Street fighting new regulation as you are of reading it. It's always the same thing: Wah, we're big banks, wah, don't regulate us or we might accidentally-on-purpose destroy your stupid economy again, wah.
So let's restore the zest to this journalist-subject relationship by making a fun contest of it.
The bank that does its regulation-fighting the best each day (or each day we write about it, anyway) wins a Christopher Moltisanti Award For Anti-Regulatory Excellence, named for the Sopranos gangster who, high on heroin, passed out on his girlfriend's dog, Cosette, and killed it. It's sort of a metaphor for how our big banks got high on leverage and crushed our dreams. Or something.
And anyway, as Christopher said, it was really the dog's fault, right? "How long I been sayin' she shouldn't be on the furniture?"
The inaugural Christopher Moltisanti Award winner is, appropriately enough, Goldman Sachs, which has really raised the bar for excellence in the art of guilt-tripping financial regulators.
Earlier this week, Goldman wrote a letter to the Federal Reserve complaining about a proposed rule that would limit the exposure of big banks to the risk that other big banks will crumble in a pile of bad debts.
Naturally the big banks are fighting this rule with the standard argument, heard for decades immemorial: Don't you regulate us too hard, or you'll hamper market liquidity, stifle American competitiveness and wreck the economy. It's pretty much boilerplate for all anti-regulation correspondence these days. That's the message Jamie Dimon and the heads of other big Wall Street banks are delivering to Fed Governor Daniel Tarullo in a sit-down today.
But Goldman just has to be the best at everything, and it goes the market one better in fighting the Fed's rule, too.
In its letter, Goldman actually estimates with extreme specificity just how much damage the proposed rule will do to the economy: It will destroy 150,000 to 300,000 jobs, to be exact.
Here's Goldman's warning, which was reported earlier by the Financial Times. Take a drink every time you read the words "liquidity" and "competitiveness:"
The Proposed Rules could have wide- ranging negative economic consequences. They are likely to damage market liquidity, generating lower returns for investors and driving higher funding costs for corporate debt issuers, as well as higher transaction costs for activities like hedging interest rate and foreign exchange exposures. This is likely to harm U.S. economic growth and international competitiveness. We estimate that the liquidity impact to the corporate bond market alone would reduce real GDP growth in the U.S. by 15 to 40 basis points over a year. This, in turn, could raise the unemployment rate by 10 to 20 basis points, eliminating 150,000 to 300,000 U.S. jobs.
Wow, that's specific. Almost too specific.
But it's also genius: Rather than just yelling "Wolf!" for the eight-thousandth time, until almost nobody believes you anymore, aside from gullible rubes like Congress, the SEC and the CFTC, it is far more novel and effective to describe the number, size and color of the wolves. The townspeople will surely believe you this time.
At this point, we should note that the economy lost way, way more than 150,000 to 300,000 jobs when Goldman et al. blew it up, partly due to the banks' over-exposure to each other's risky debts, a problem the Fed's rule is hoping to address.
Anyway, well played, Goldman Sachs. For this groundbreaking anti-regulation performance, you receive five Cosettes (out of five possible Cosettes) and the very first Christopher Moltisanti Award For Anti-Regulatory Excellence.
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