John McCain lost the 2008 presidential election because of the financial crisis—at least that's what his chief strategist, Steve Schmidt, suggested. "We were three points ahead on Sept. 15 when the stock market crashed. And then the election was over," Schmidt said in a postmortem earlier this year. Today the walls between firms still seem low indeed, and trading in derivatives that are "over the counter" (that is, out of public sight) continues at an astonishing pace, having risen back up to nearly $600 trillion worth. One big danger sign ahead is that the biggest banks have gotten even bigger in the aftermath of the catastrophe, and under the new rules requiring swap dealers to post capital for margin requirements, the big banks are likely to monopolize even more of this derivatives market and become that much richer and more powerful. That won't necessarily be a problem—unless the next crash proves once again that they cannot be allowed to fail, and the government must step in. Until McCain and Cantwell decided to speak out, very little that is currently under consideration by Congress or the executive branch would have changed that.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
"Spurning Obama, McCain and Cantwell propose resurrecting Glass-Steagall to break up Wall Street."
Michael Hirsch (Newsweek Web Exclusive):