The Fed is the problem, not the solution
Does our government and our representatives have the morality and the courage to do this and save the US economy and its citizens?
These issues should be on both parties platforms, but....
An agenda of deeper reforms can boost public confidence even as it undoes a lot of the damage caused by the financiers and bankers. Some suggestions:
-- Nationalize Fannie Mae and other government-supported enterprises instead of coddling them. Restore them to their original status as nonprofit federal agencies that provide a valuable service to housing and other markets. Make the investors eat their losses. Buy the shares at 2 cents on the dollar. Without a federal guarantee, these firms are doomed anyway.
-- Resolve the democratic contradiction of "too big to fail" bailouts by dismantling the firms that are too big to fail -- especially the newly created banking conglomerates that have done so much harm. Restore the boundaries between commercial banking and investment banking. In any case, market pressures are likely to shrink those behemoths as banks sell off their parts to survive. For the remaining big boys, revive antitrust enforcement. Set stern new conditions for emergency lending from government -- supervised receivership, stricter lending rules to prevent recidivism and severe penalties for greed-crazed shareholders and executives.
-- Assign the Federal Reserve's regulatory role to a new public agency that is visible and politically accountable. Make the Fed a subsidiary agency of the Treasury Department and reform its decision-making on money and credit to restore an equitable balance between competing goals and interests -- seeking full employment but also stable money and moderate inflation.
-- Begin the hard task of re-creating a regulated financial system Americans can trust, one that recognizes its obligations to the broad national interest. This requires regulatory reforms to cover moneypots like private-equity funds and to clear away the blatant conflicts of interest and double-dealing on Wall Street, and also to give responsible shareholders, workers and other interests a greater voice in corporate management and greater protection against rip-offs of personal savings.
-- Re-enact the federal law against usury. The details are difficult and can follow later, but this would be a meaningful first step toward restoring moral obligations in the financial sector. People would understand it, and so would a lot of the money guys. Maybe in the deepening crisis, Washington will begin to grasp that money is also a moral issue.
From National affairs correspondent William Greider
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