No Rules While Bandits Rule

The 1936 Commodity Futures Exchange Act, and more in years after, placed limits on traders and the houses and financiers that backed them. These laws limited imbalanced, tricky or shadowed positions on regulated exchanges. Not so today. John McCain with his sidekick Phil Gramm let the cowboys get on the bull, the Enron loophole, the arena cheers, swaps and derivatives are hawked on the midway, the noise of the free market rodeo is heard around the world. Riding too high too long, one falls, another falls, a few marketeers lose leverage, entire bunkhouses of riders bite the dust, no player stays up to the bell, not producers, not end-users, not consumers, and too many packagers and speculators just fell off the bull, chewing the dirt. And taxpayers now ‘bear’ the cost. 🙂

The street is darkened and quiet. Gamblers fondle lost paper not worth the ticket they bought. The rodeo candles a few hobo and stragglers. The dandy in their bowties try to jester a few to stay the night. But the countryside is forlorn.

Bandit BushFor this, most of the old stock and clown crew won’t show their faces in town. Many have been run out and the rest hide under ‘a bush’. The shrink of Wall Street and collapse of our pensions, our mortgages and equity, our budgets and cash. For this, those snarky fellows who fell to the ground, and McCain and his plain-cloth woman, are daring again to seek the highest office in the land!

To achieve their next folly, millions are spent to loft fibs and lies over our good country and suppress honest discussion on heralded deregulation and the free boys they let play on the Street – players that couldn’t finish their ride in our rodeo, and while falling off, crippled the ‘bull’ and busted the gate.

Of course it’s not one loophole that let rootin’ tootin’ revelry tear up our townships. For at least three decades of relentless tinkering away of organized, regulated, rational limits and laws, a few have drumbeat us into allowing a culture of untethered financiers and deal makers. 1-beat Free. 2-beat Markets. 3-beat Bad. 4-beat Government. The Wall Street bull is wounded and we’ve been beat bare. 🙂

Bandit MccainDon’t you dare think about putting McCain in office. Any frontier town and all its cowhands would tar and feather him and posse all his allies, even if they had to rove to Colorado Springs to corral his foreman and strawbosses too.

Doldrum industry and currency stagflation after the post-WWII boom was scary stuff. Inflation was high and a mortgage could cost 17% each year. Rolling into Washington in the 80s, proposals to stimulate markets by loosening restraints and encouraging innovation were sensible suggestions that turned our efforts to new enterprise, new alliances and new financial tools. The economy turned. Applause. The saloon poured whiskey for the newcomers. The flag billowed around the world. We kicked the old timer regulators out of Washington and sold the ranch to these free marketeers and their deregulation preachers.

Campaigning in red white and blue today, a sly new game is in town, the Leave Us Bandits Alone game, same tune with a different beat., familiar free market melody, a downbeat on deregulation, a backnote on innovation or private sector. But it’s louder, almost a chant, Drill, Drill, Drill, shrill at times. Near our fireside, their stories are of faraway conquests and dedicated heroes, and spooky ghost stories of guns and gays, and God with hymns before bedtime.

We buy the apple pie but go to bed hungry.

Enough. Thirty years is enough. We have let loose cults named corporations where the only rule is libertine.

Bandit BushObama will close the Enron Loophole and in the first good steps of this century, his administration will move America toward principle, reason and restraint in our markets, a sensible compromise between tradition and the future.

Real tradition and a real future, not Norman Rockwell blips and doomed portents from the outback pulpit .

  1. “We must reform requirements on all regulated financial institutions,” Obama says.
  2. “We must strengthen capital requirements, particularly for complex financial instruments like some of the mortgage securities and other derivatives at the center of our current crisis.
  3. We must develop and rigorously manage liquidity risk.
  4. We must investigate rating agencies and potential conflicts of interest with the people they are rating.
  5. And we must establish transparency requirements that demand full disclosure by financial institutions to shareholders and counterparties.
  6. As we reform our regulatory system at home, we must address the same problems abroad so that financial institutions around the world are subject to similar rules of the road.”

Now that’s how to really ride a bull.

The rest of us? We’ll throw the old bums out of Wichita, er, Washington.