Monday, July 28, 2008

Clinton's Role

An interesting read via Stewie's blog regarding the mortgage crisis. Jason Leavitt does a fantastic job summing up the role's played by each variable of the mortgage melt-down. But, ultimately, Bill Clinton seems to deserve to be held accountable as well. Leavitt writes;
"...on November 12, 1999. With the CEO of Citigroup looking over his shoulder, Bill Clinton signed into law the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act which repealed the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933.
The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act permitted commercial and investment banks to consolidate, and almost overnight behemoth financial service companies that supplied everything to everybody were born. Smith-Barney, Salomon Brothers, PaineWebber and many other well-known and respected investment banks were gobbled up by Citibank, JP Morgan etc, and while the lay public didn’t have a clue what was going on, conflict of interests were rampant. Suddenly the banking arm of one of these financial service companies was pressuring the investment arm to raise its ratings on stocks to help lubricate the deal-making process. (As a quick side note, Citigroup played a major role lobbying for an end to Glass-Steagall. Starting in 1998, the finance, insurance and real estate industries together spent more than $200 million to get Glass-Steagall repealed, and not so coincidentally, only a couple days after Clinton signed Gramm-Leach-Bliley into law, recently-departed Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin was hired by Citigroup as a member of its 3-person office of the chairman.)
If you start with today and work backwards with intentions of figuring out when “all this mess started,” you’ll find many parties that played a role in adding fuel to a fire which was spinning out of control, but your journey won’t end until November 12, 1999 when Bill Clinton tore down the walls within the financial community.
I’m not going to go as far to say if Bill Clinton had not repealed Glass-Steagall, we wouldn’t be in the financial situation we’re in, but I can certainly say it would have been much more mild and probably isolated. When second and third parties are involved in a transaction, more due diligence is done, more scrutiny is applied, and less risk is taken."

It's a very interesting read. And to top it all off, the article ends with a great photo of Bill Clinton after signing the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. Looks like a circle-jerk at an occult sacrifice...not that I know what one of those would look like, but I've seen some movies.

No comments: