Where’s today’s hellhound of Wall Street?

By Felix Salmon
October 14, 2010
My review of Michael Perino's new book about Ferdinand Pecora, The Hellhound of Wall Street, is up now chez B&N.

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My review of Michael Perino’s new book about Ferdinand Pecora, The Hellhound of Wall Street, is up now chez B&N. I liked the book a lot, and learned a lot from it, and ultimately came away saddened that history can’t and won’t repeat itself this time round. In 1933, Pecora was the hero of the financial crisis: the man who brought the banksters to book. Today, there’s no such hero. And while Dodd-Frank and Basel III are all well and good, they’re not remotely as far-reaching and revolutionary as the Securities Act, and the Exchange Act, and the creation of entities like the SEC and the FDIC.

Of course, it’s thanks largely to Pecora that we don’t need anything so far-reaching and revolutionary. It’s great that Perino has rescued Pecora from the dusty reaches of history, and is showing what an aggressive prosecutorial lawyer can do, given subpoena power and the moral high ground. I’d love to see one of those in the Senate today, or even in an AG’s office somewhere, or at the SEC. But ever since Eliot Spitzer became governor of New York, that job has seemed to be vacant. It looks very much as though there will be precious few prosecutions coming out of this crisis. Unless, of course, I’m right about the degree to which the mortgage scandal could explode.

5 comments so far

As you said, it was at a time of higher moral standards. You will be hard pressed to find a powerful lawyer that has such standards today and isn’t in it for the money. Besides most of the powerful lawyers are advising Banks how to skirt the new law and the rest are lobbying in banks favour to change the new law.

According to this article, folks might want to look for more amendments to the Dodd franks bill, because as the ink dries, the vultures are circling, and coming in for the kill, again. It doesn’t look good… so I wouldn’t cross your fingers for any white knights to suddenly appear….

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-10-14  /wall-street-lobbyists-besiege-cftc-to- influence-regulations-on-derivatives.htm l

Posted by hsvkitty | Report as abusive

From CFTCwebsite… Public input

“As a result of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the CFTC will write rules to regulate the swaps marketplace. The CFTC has identified 30 areas where rules will be necessary. The public is encouraged to provide input on the rule-writing process. Information regarding each rule-writing area will be published as it becomes available.”

how to submit a comment
http://cftc.gov/LawRegulation/PublicComm ents/HowtoSubmit/index.htm

What rules are being discussed
http://cftc.gov/LawRegulation/DoddFrankA ct/Rulemakings/index.htm

The red tape for submissions
“Members of the public who wish to submit official comments should submit them during the comment period commencing with the notice of proposed rulemaking published in the Federal Register.”

http://cftc.gov/LawRegulation/DoddFrankA ct/otc_31_general.html

Posted by hsvkitty | Report as abusive

She’s over at Naked Capitalism, Felix

Posted by RichardSmith | Report as abusive

What needs to be remembered is that Pecora only participated in the second (post FDR’s election) round of Senate hearings. The first round, held in 1932, Hoover still president, was toothless. Let’s see if anyone can guess the name of the famous Wall Street firm, much in the news in the recent crisis, notable in its day for its investment company pyramids and the wrath of Eddie Cantor, whose top men testified only in that first round and was therefore spared Pecora’s attentions.

Posted by midasw | Report as abusive

Acutally, midasw, the high point of Pecora’s examinations was during the Hoover administration. After the election, to be sure — after FDR was elected — but before he took office.

Posted by FelixSalmon | Report as abusive
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