Effective Oversight in a Financial World Gone Bad?

Remember: Tell members of Congress that you want them to take action here. We will be delivering your comments to Congress in the coming week.

After the announcement that Earl Devaney would step into the role of financial watchdog for the TARP and other fund disbursements during the ongoing financial crisis, I have to admit I was thrilled.

As Interior Department IG, Devaney’s accountability arguments with former Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton got around the Beltway, and his help in taking down Abramoff largesse recipients was exceptional.

But it was this interview in the Federal Times that really caught my eye:

A lot of the cases we’ve had over here have ended up being close calls as to whether they were prosecutable. When the cases are taken for prosecution, it’s pretty clear cut. As often as not, cases that get declined for prosecution often result in a reprimand. There is a whole range of disciplinary action between going to jail and getting a reprimand that’s being ignored here, and that’s my main complaint. Short of a crime, it seems the only thing that happens is a letter of reprimand.

I’m a strong believer that just because something isn’t a crime or doesn’t violate the law doesn’t mean it’s OK. Once the American public loses trust in any department, the people or its programs, that trust is awfully hard to get back. Appearances do matter.

Damn straight. Because Devaney is old-school, having him watch-dog the financial sector makes me smile. Respect for the rule of law is a nice change.

But is it enough? Not even close.

The last few weeks, we’ve seen millions of taxpayer dollars pour into the coffers of ginormous financial institutions whose accounting practices leave even experienced accounting geeks mystified. And it keeps on pouring.

Where is it all going? Is it being used prudently? Will there be a full accounting? Will the government receive a real return on the money? Are we getting appropriate value for these "investments" to shore up liquidity? Are all of these institutions truly worth saving or would we be better off allowing collapse? Is this money going to the business or to outside investors — and why?

Shouldn’t we have answers to some of this instead of just shoveling more money onto the shitpile?

We’re going to be asking a lot of these questions and more this week with some excellent guests. On deck today: James Galbraith at 4:30pm Eastern Daylight Time (3:30 Central, 1:30 Pacific), and Rep. Alan Grayson at 7:30pm Eastern (6:30 Central, 4:30 Pacific).

In the meantime, take a peek at just one tiny slice of takeover hell for smaller banks and consider what Sheila Bair, the head of FDIC, says to 60 Minutes about larger investment institutions: should we limit size of these behemoths in the future for taxpayer’s sake? And, if so, how? It’s not enough to get through the current financial crisis — we need to think about ways to stave off the next one, too.

Effective Oversight In A Financial World Gone Bad?

Remember: Tell members of Congress that you want them to take action here. We will be delivering your comments to Congress in the coming week.

After the announcement that Earl Devaney would step into the role of financial watchdog for the TARP and other fund disbursements during the ongoing financial crisis, I have to admit I was thrilled.

As Interior Department IG, Devaney’s accountability arguments with former Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton got around the Beltway, and his help in taking down Abramoff largesse recipients was exceptional.

But it was this interview in the Federal Times that really caught my eye:

A lot of the cases we’ve had over here have ended up being close calls as to whether they were prosecutable. When the cases are taken for prosecution, it’s pretty clear cut. As often as not, cases that get declined for prosecution often result in a reprimand. There is a whole range of disciplinary action between going to jail and getting a reprimand that’s being ignored here, and that’s my main complaint. Short of a crime, it seems the only thing that happens is a letter of reprimand.

I’m a strong believer that just because something isn’t a crime or doesn’t violate the law doesn’t mean it’s OK. Once the American public loses trust in any department, the people or its programs, that trust is awfully hard to get back. Appearances do matter.

Damn straight. Because Devaney is old-school, having him watch-dog the financial sector makes me smile. Respect for the rule of law is a nice change.

But is it enough? Not even close.

The last few weeks, we’ve seen millions of taxpayer dollars pour into the coffers of ginormous financial institutions whose accounting practices leave even experienced accounting geeks mystified. And it keeps on pouring.

Where is it all going? Is it being used prudently? Will there be a full accounting? Will the government receive a real return on the money? Are we getting appropriate value for these "investments" to shore up liquidity? Are all of these institutions truly worth saving or would we be better off allowing collapse? Is this money going to the business or to outside investors — and why?

Shouldn’t we have answers to some of this instead of just shoveling more money onto the shitpile?

We’re going to be asking a lot of these questions and more this week with some excellent guests. On deck today: James Galbraith at 4:30pm Eastern Daylight Time (3:30 Central, 1:30 Pacific), and Rep. Alan Grayson at 7:30pm Eastern (6:30 Central, 4:30 Pacific).

In the meantime, take a peek at just one tiny slice of takeover hell for smaller banks and consider what Sheila Bair, the head of FDIC, says to 60 Minutes about larger investment institutions: should we limit size of these behemoths in the future for taxpayer’s sake? And, if so, how? It’s not enough to get through the current financial crisis — we need to think about ways to stave off the next one, too.

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