Business

Geithner Wants Broader Powers To Seize Non-Banks

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And after the AIG mess, I say we give it to him. How we allowed one company to take down the entire system still feels unreal to me. How on earth could we allow that to go down? Crazy, crazy, crazy.

But it did happen and we are suffering massive fallout as a result, so we have to make absolutely sure we’re protected. And, like it or not, the only way to do that is give the government more power.

From Bloomberg…

The authority would allow the Treasury, in collaboration with the Federal Reserve, regulators and the president, to step in and more easily combat problems at systemically important institutions on the verge of failure, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. AIG has received $182.5 billion in government bailout funds, according to the Government Accountability Office.

“We must ensure that our country never faces this situation again,” Geithner is expected to say according to excerpts of his testimony obtained by Bloomberg News. “To achieve that goal the administration and Congress have to work together to enact comprehensive regulatory reform and eliminate gaps in supervision.”

The expanded powers, which require Congressional approval, could help monitor risk and detect problems across an array of financial-services firms to prevent shocks to the global economy such as the one caused by the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. in September. […]

It would also ensure proper accountability when taxpayer funds are provided to institutions in extreme circumstances, like AIG, which is now 80 percent owned by the government. The authority would provide the government with various tools including the ability to break contracts on executive compensation commitments, like those at the center of the furor over the insurance-giant’s $165 million in bonuses.

More transparency and more accountability.

What’s not to like about this?

And remember, since global commerce is so tied to our banking system, we have a responsibility not only to our taxpayers, but also the rest of the world. Because don’t kid yourself by thinking that China’s public calls to consider replacing our currency in the reserve basket didn’t come as a direct result of letting firms like AIG overleverage themselves to the point of insolvency.