Tales from the Trail

from Summit Notebook:

Lady Gaga may not be the only one singing a new tune in November

USA/
The 2010 Reuters Washington Summit included 4 days of on-the-record interviews with policymakers, congressmen and Obama Administration officials here in the DC bureau. The interviews covered a wide range of topics…from the impact of the mid-term elections to the importance of the Lady Gaga vote.

With less than six weeks to go before the mid-term elections the focus was on what a potential shift in power to a Republican-controlled Congress could mean for policy priorities in the coming year. We heard from Senators’ McCain, Dodd, Gregg and Bingaman. On the House side we spoke with the man responsible for getting Democrats elected…Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. He called this election season a “tough and challenging environment,’ but predicted Democrats would retain control of the House.

From the Obama Administration, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs opened his comments by admitting that early on the administration did not have a “real understanding of the depth of what we were in.” News of Larry Summers’ departure as White House advisor came on the eve of our interview with a man who has worked with Summers, Austan Goolsbee, Chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisors. Goolsbee said he expected that Mr. Summers’ replacement wouldn’t be part of “a dramatic change in direction.” On the economy, Goolsbee noted that he does not see a double dip on the horizon and that “pulling back on current spending programs could spook the markets.”

On the regulatory front, FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair was adamant in her remarks about “ending too big to fail” and said that “the banking system is healing…and there is continuing improvement in low quality loans.” Meanwhile, Treasury’s Special Inspector General for TARP, Neil Barofsky, the man charged with policing the government’s exit from GM and AIG, said his group would begin a probe into the GM IPO after it launches to make sure that it was in the best interest of taxpayers.

On Afghanistan, we heard from Richard Holbrooke, Special Advisor on Afghanistan and Pakistan who was measured in his response to the Obama Administration’s planned timetable for withdrawal.

from Summit Notebook:

FDIC Chair Bair: think before you point that finger…

The latest blame game circulating in Washington on financial regulation may end up with those who point fingers  finding that they have three fingers pointing back.

During the debate on tightening financial regulations, there have been some backhanded jabs at regulators with the implication that perhaps they were asleep at the wheel. Just this morning on NBC's "Today" show, Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill said Wall Street had been creating things just to bet on -- "they were like the casino, but they had less regulation than Las Vegas."

Well hold on. Who's fault is that?

USA/We asked Sheila Bair, chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

She said when it comes to regulating many of the complex over-the-counter derivatives, the blame actually fell into the lap of Congress which decided against putting them under the oversight of the SEC or CFTC or insurance regulators. And in fairness to Congress, the Federal Reserve and Treasury condoned that action, she said.

The First Draft: A Beauty Way to Go

Good day you hosers!

President Barack Obama takes off to the Great White North today on his first foreign jaunt as president. Trade will top the agenda in Ottawa as Obama seeks to ease concerns about protectionism. He’ll also discuss the war in Afghanistan and clean energy technology with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Canadian Parlaiment, but the one-day trip leaves little time to get into details. Too bad, eh?CANADA-MOUNTIES/

Obama’s foreclosure plan should start showing results as soon as next month, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation chairman Shelia Bair said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

Defense Secretary Robert Gates is in Poland, seeking help from allies for the war in Afghanistan. The United States is sending an additional 17,000 troops, but has now lost its last remaining air base in Central Asia after a “Yankee Go Home” vote was approved by Kyrgyzstan.

Treasury’s guide on how to spend 12 zeros after the 1

A trillion dollars is a million million dollars or 12 zeros after the one.

And that’s how much apparently every program costs to save the U.S. economy these days.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner outlined what he called “a new financial stability plan” to help restart the flow of credit, strengthen banks, and  “provide critical aid for homeowners and for small businesses.” FINANCIAL/BAILOUT

His proposal included a program in which the FDIC, the Federal Reserve, and the private sector would establish a fund, using government financing, to deal with bad assets weighing on financial firms.