Sen. Cantwell Is Right to Question Risky Derivative Dangers, Geithner

 

Updated July 15, 2010 – 3 p.m.

An influential U.S. senator, Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), worked to regulate the perilous use of derivatives by Wall Street bankers, and criticized the Obama Administration in the process. But her derivative strategy worked. The sweeping financial reform legislation will regulate the risky, intangible instruments.

This means derivative trading now faces regulation, and financial institutions will have to set up a fire wall by moving their derivative departments elsewhere.

“This isn’t about poking the White House, it’s about getting capital flowing to small businesses,” Sen. Cantwell said in an interview with Les Blumenthal, a reporter for McClatchy’s Washington state newspapers.

She helped lead the fight against investment bankers, who were bailed out by taxpayers only to shell out big bonuses and who are at it again. Instead of extending credit to business, Wall Street is back to the old tricks of playing risky derivative games that helped lead to Wall Street’s meltdown and the global-financial disaster.

She’s also had a testy exchange with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner over the failed efforts to bail out community banks and the associated credit issues faced by her Washington state constituents and other American businesses and consumers.

“We are trying to keep the focus on what needs to be done to get credit flowing and avoid another bubble,” Sen. Cantwell also said. “Do I wish the White House team was more attuned to these issues? Yes.”

 Yes is right. It’s commendable that she’s become outspoken about regulating Wall Street’s behavior.

If she’s successful, we’ll see job creation – the only way out of this mess. I’ve been harping about this and asking for answers to questions for an extended period of time starting with this column, “Is it Time to Police Pay at Wall Street Banks?

And she was right about voting against the reappointment of Fed Chair Ben Bernanke. Few in Congress seem to understand Main Street issues and his tardy, tepid handling of the Great Recession at the Fed.

Firewall partnership

Sen. Cantwell partnered with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), the former GOP presidential candidate, to bring back the commercial/investment banking firewall. This will prevent risk-taking by commercial banks that exacerbated two downturns in the 1930s and the most-recent  financial chaos. The two worked together on the Senate Commerce Committee.

Cash flow and credit are critical for operating a business. With too-few funds available in loans, businesses have been failing or, at least, suffering from bad credit as a result of not having access to capital.

Efforts by the Obama Administration and Small Business Administration to provide more loans are to be commended. However, they are way too-little and too late. Most afflicted small businesses now have poor credit because of the cash cutoffs and they won’t qualify for any the funding.

Credit card regulations were too late, too.

Nothing has been done to help repair the credit of the millions of small businesspeople and consumers who were victimized by the credit card companies – domiciled in a handful of states that permit predatory behavior – their rapacious interest rate hikes for bogus reasons and slashed credit lines.

Sen. Cantwell also indicated her disappointment that the Obama Administration twice reneged on promises for action on the proposed firewall between commercial and investment banks.

“Their economic team is not living up to what they said they would,” she explained to Mr. Blumenthal.

Hmm. Broken promises? That’s not what America needs, but we can appreciate Sen. Cantwell’s candor and successful efforts.

From the Coach’s Corner, on another somber note regarding credit: Customers of the hospitality industry are ostensibly the No. 1 target of hackers, here’s the article.

Seattle business consultant Terry Corbell provides high-performance management services and strategies.