September 16, 2013

The Financial Collapse Five Years Later

Five years ago today, the financial panic began. What have we learned?

Five years ago today, financial giant Lehman Brothers collapsed, precipitating the crisis of confidence in the financial sector and a deepening recession. We’re also four and a half years into the Obama “recovery” that has been anything but. So with all we’ve learned, could history repeat itself?

Morgan Stanley Chief Executive James Gorman says no: “The probability of it happening again in our lifetime is as close to zero as I could imagine.” But Stanford economics professor Anat Admati says, “Fundamentally not that much has changed. There’s still a lot of risk in the opaque markets that we don’t see, still a lot of leverage that we only discover when it’s too late.”

The chief mechanism for fixing the problem was the Dodd-Frank financial reform law. Yet with it’s massive not-yet-completed pile of regulations, it’s bound to fail – or worse. For example, Dodd-Frank established the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, an Orwellian-named bureaucracy that monitors markets in the name of protecting the little guy. However, the CFPB has become the NSA of the financial world, seeking to mine data on four out of every five consumer credit card transactions.

Even congressional Democrats are worried that the practice violates not only two specific provisions of Dodd-Frank, but Fourth Amendment rights as well. At last week’s hearing on the subject, Rep. Jeb Hensarling warned that the CFPB “is designed to operate outside the usual system of checks and balances that applies to every other government agency.”

Will this massive apparatus keep 2008 from happening again? Hardly. In fact, big government helped create the panic in the first place.

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