Thursday, December 17, 2009

If Paul Volcker had a hammer ...

According to NYT blogger Simon Johnson (Sloan MIT prof and former chief economist at IMF), former Fed chair Paul Volcker is going rogue on the Obama administration by pushing for much tighter regulation of the financial services industry. Although Volcker was originally going to be a senior economic advisor to the President, he has been eclipsed by Larry Summers and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. Now that financial services regulation is moving to the front burner in both the House and the Senate, Big Paul (he is 6'7" in case you wondered) has picked the perfect time to make his pitch.

Monday's WSJ had an interview with the former fed chairman where he shared the following insights: (1) forget CDOs, the most important financial innovation in the last 20 years is the ATM; (2) there are huge moral hazard issues; and (3) commercial and investment banks need to be separated. It will be interesting to see how Volcker's arguments influence the upcoming deliberations.

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