Tales from the Trail

from Summit Notebook:

Against high Hill drama, SEC chief mum on Goldman

First of all, Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Mary Schapiro would not talk about Goldman Sachs.

There was no drawing her out. The head of the agency that filed a civil fraud lawsuit charging that Goldman misled investors would not say a word about the case. GOLDMAN/

Quite the opposite from the high-drama being played out at the same time on Capitol Hill where Goldman Sachs executives were facing the fusillade at a Senate hearing, where one senator kept repeating "shi--y deal." (There are two t's missing from that word).

Schapiro in an interview at the Reuters Global Financial Regulation Summit just was not going to go there. "I'm not going to comment on Goldman," she said before one reporter even got the question out.

Even while responding to a tangential question, she began by saying "put the Goldman case aside," careful to make sure her answer would not be linked to the investment bank.

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.

from Summit Notebook:

CFTC’s Gensler explains the present with the past

Gary Gensler, chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, likes to go to the past -- sometimes as far back as 1,000 years -- to explain the financial situations of today.

REGULATION-SUMMIT/For example, derivatives existed for 145 years, since the Civil War, and they became regulated in the 1930s, he said at a Reuters Global Financial Regulation Summit in explaining that derivatives need regulation.

If you only want to go back a couple hundred years, Gensler had this to say:  "Somebody in the 19th century invented street lights, somebody invented stop signs, somebody invented traffic lights."

from Summit Notebook:

ABA’s Yingling sees danger in rhetoric: it’s Wall Street, not banks

REGULATION-SUMMITEd Yingling, president and CEO of the American Bankers Association, is a little worried about the rhetoric that's been flying around as Congress tries to produce financial reform legislation.

And he wants people to be clear that the problems are with Wall Street, not banks.

Though, the differentiation gets a little tricky here because some of the largest banks in the country and biggest players on Wall Street are members of his organization and received taxpayer bailouts. The thousands of other banks that his trade association represents did not.

from Summit Notebook:

Reuters set to spotlight financial regulation in DC

The fight over new rules that will dramatically change Wall Street and financial markets is approaching the finish line in Washington, with both lawmakers and the financial industry making last-ditch efforts to put their stamp on the reform effort. Reuters will be hearing from the key players in the debate on April 26-29 during the 2010 Reuters Global Financial Regulation Summit.

Top regulators, watchdogs, lawmakers and stakeholders will provide their perspectives on how this landmark legislation will impact banks, investors, traders and consumers. The talks will focus in on proposals for a strong new consumer agency, strict oversight of derivatives and attempts to end the perception that some financial firms are “too big to fail.”

What did you expect from a financial meltdown hearing?

If anyone was looking for Wall Street executives to say “sorry” at the financial meltdown hearing, they would have been disappointed. FINANCIAL-COMMISSION/

If anyone was looking for the Justice Department to offer a firm “Yes” to the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission‘s request for sharing information, they would have been disappointed. (Attorney General Eric Holder did pledge cooperation).

But one commission member declared “this is the happiest day of my life” (we’re thinking perhaps he needs to get out more).

from Summit Notebook:

Washington divided, more trouble ahead for Obama?

Washington insiders say that not since the 1890's have the people that represent the U.S. been so divided. From Gay rights to Afghanistan lawmakers are at polar opposites on issues that are on the Obama administration's agenda. What's next? And, what's likely to get the green light or the stop sign?