The Great Debate

Can Congress pull back from the brink?

By Gayle Tzemach Lemmon
December 13, 2012

Americans want to see Congress and the president make a deal on the “fiscal cliff,” that noxious mix of expiring tax cuts and mandatory spending slashing due at year’s end. They just don’t think it will happen without a lot of pain, according to recent polls.

The perils of cliff-diving

By Douglas Holtz-Eakin
December 6, 2012

The fiscal cliff is a danger to the economy.  Some have argued that cliff diving is benign either because the cliff itself is an illusion – it is really a gentle slope – or because policymakers have the cartoon-like power to reverse going over the cliff without hitting the abyss.

2013: The year of tax reform

By Grover G. Norquist and Patrick Gleason
November 1, 2012

Policy and political circles are now both talking about the prospect of comprehensive federal tax reform next year. From Capitol Hill to Wall Street to Main Street, people are asking how this reform will be structured. They should look to states across the country for their model. Many are due to embark on sweeping overhauls, even complete rewrites, of their tax codes in 2013.

Are the big banks winning?

By Charles R. Morris
October 24, 2012

The Dodd-Frank Act to re-regulate the big banks was intentionally tough. It was passed in the wake of the 2008-2009 financial crash to end cowboy banking; require far more capital  and much less leverage, and rein in the trading-desk geniuses who pumped up serial bubbles. Since Congress is a poor forum for crafting such a complex statute, the details were left to the expert regulatory agencies.

On Wall Street, big paychecks do not replace corporate culture

By Shideh Sedgh Bina
June 14, 2012

Goldman Sachs can’t seem to stay out of the wrong spotlight these days. With reports about executive layoffs and high numbers of senior people leaving, Goldman is losing its once-untouchable luster as analysts scrutinize its performance through a new lens.

from David Cay Johnston:

Closing Wall Street’s casino

By David Cay Johnston
November 18, 2011

The author is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

A superb example of a sound rule in law and economics that needs reviving, because it can halt the rampant speculation in derivatives, is the ancient legal principle that gambling debts are not enforceable through court action.

Senate vote exposes Wall Street impotence

May 21, 2010

Wall Street’s diminished influence in Washington was made plain yesterday when the Senate voted to approve financial reform legislation by 59 votes to 39.

Wall Street’s biggest trade of the year

April 15, 2010

Wall Street’s famed army of lobbyists does not seem to have had much success pushing back on the regulatory overhaul bills now being considered by the U.S. Congress.

from James Saft:

Learning from Ken Feinberg

By J Saft
March 25, 2010

Sometimes it's what doesn't happen that is most illuminating.

When Pay Czar Kenneth Feinberg first slashed executive compensation at U.S. firms that benefited most from a government bailout the cry was that this would hurt these weakened firms when they could least afford it, as the best and brightest would leave for better money elsewhere, where the free market still ruled.

from Commentaries:

Wall Street’s $4 trillion kitty

August 24, 2009

matthewgoldstein.jpgThe Obama administration's plan for reining in derivatives leaves unchecked one of Wall Street's dirty little secrets: the ability of a derivatives dealer to redeploy cash collateral that gets posted by one of its trading partners.