Here we are in November already, well past the first-year anniversary of the Panic of 2008, and any heat, not to mention action, on financial reform has been reduced to a slow saut? from a flame more suited to stir-fry. The debate on whether some companies are too big to fail has just kind of gone poof.
This should surprise no one for a number of reasons. For one, who do you think owns the Representatives and Senators that would have to craft legislation to rein in these trillion-dollar monsters? Sorry, ladies and gentlemen of Capitol Hill, but we just don’t feel like putting on the bridle today or any time soon.
For another, the financial meltdown had its 15 minutes of fame. In the entertainment world that is the U.S. in 2009, it’s time to move on. There’s Jon and Kate, Jen and John, Brangelina, etc., etc. to compete for the limited attention span of most people.
Sure, Goldman releases blowout earnings for the third quarter and outrage bubbles for a moment. But then like bubbles do, the outrage bursts. And we’re back to Jon and Kate…
I have very little faith in the ability of Congress to summon up the courage to do what is necessary in the case of those companies whose collapse might endanger the financial system; in other words, companies too big to fail.
Some enterprising capitalists might want to think about starting a business called ‘Cojones For Rent’ and seeing what kind of business they could drum up from our legislators.
Or, we could take a page from the book being written by European regulators who don’t seem to be shy about cracking the whip when necessary.
The European Commission indeed did just that last week when it forced ING to divide itself in half. ING is a worldwide banking and insurance giant. Its properties are well-known and in the U.S. at least, its insurance units are well-respected.