Monday, January 25, 2010

Volcker Has "Lost" It......

Nobody had more to do with breaking the back of inflation in this country than former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker. Thirty years ago, he stopped it in its tracks with higher interest rates. He was on top of his game in a way that many argue ultimately produced the great bull market that ended in 2000.

However, just as there are instances where other finance seers (as opposed to financiers) subsequently lost their way, especially Bob Rubin, a once revered Treasury Secretary, now known as presiding over a bank one-third owned by the federal government because of actions he approved, the question to ask is whether Volcker, an icon 30 years ago, still has a keen understanding of what went wrong in this banking crisis.

To wit, I cannot recall a single instance where proprietary trading, internal hedge funds, or private equity played a role in creating the banking mess that President Obama has decided to focus on with his much-ballyhooed "Volcker Rule."

Almost 100% of the problems that caused TARP and the U.S. guarantees are directly related to poor lending decisions and a lax regulatory environment directly traceable to the state and federal governments. A Volcker Rule wouldn't have stopped any of it......

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