Not-so-tough finance reform
President Obama signed his financial reform bill into law Wednesday and in attendance were CEOs from three of the biggest recipients of taxpayer money: Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase and Goldman Sachs.
Why would they now support a bill which could threaten their companies' futures?
The answer is included in a report released Wednesday by the TARP special inspector general, Neil Barofsky, but lost by most of the media.
In an interview Wednesday on MSNBC, the inspector general said the big banks "now have the opportunity to make big profits by borrowing money at almost a 0 percent interest rate." They then lend much of that money back to the government by buying Treasuries, basically locking in a profit.
The report to Congress shows the original $700 billion TARP bill has "actually increased to $3.7 trillion in 2010, largely without congressional approval."
He added, "The increase was due largely to the government's pledges to supply capital to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac," which were not addressed in the reform bill.
Mr. Barofsky said, "Our mission is to bring the necessary transparency to the American people. The American taxpayer didn't ask to fund this bailout. They're involuntary investors."
The latest report from the inspector general's office shows the U.S. government and the big banks are now dependent on each other. They are basically partners.
Not exactly tough finance reform. It's the smaller banks and community banks that will feel the wrath of the government in the future.
WILLIAM PIERCEY Sr., Cape Girardeau