President Obama is expected to propose significant new limits on U.S. banks today, setting off speculation about the White House's policy and political goals. The proposed regulations would limit the size of financial institutions, targeting banks that have become "too big to fail," which many say are a liability to the overall economy. Obama is also expected to call for regulations limiting riskier trading practices. Is this part of Obama's midterm-minded shift to populism or an increased focus on the economy after Tuesday's election in Massachusetts dimmed hopes for health care reform?
- Great--If Limits Go Far Enough Baseline Scenario's Simon Johnson says don't limit the limits. "The limits need to be on everything that banks do, if they are to be meaningful at all. This is not a moment for technocratic niceties; the banks must be reined in, simply and directly."
- Going For Wall Street's Jugular Mother Jones's Kevin Drum praises the move, which "could be very good idea if it's implemented properly." He describes it as an attempt to "go straight for Wall Street's jugular." He worries, however, about "the power of the finance lobby to prevent serious regulatory change."
- Will Banks Fight Back? Politico thinks so, predicting, "The banking industry is gearing up for a major fight over the proposals, which some bankers view as 'Glass-Steagall light,' referring to the Depression-era wall between investment and commercial banking that was torn down in 1999." Politico notes that Obama's "announcement will come just hours after Goldman Sachs will report another quarter of big profits and compensation averaging $600,000 per employee."
- Run Against the Banks? Simon Johnson thinks Obama and the Democrats may be planning, or at least hoping, to run against the banks in November. "These banks, after all, brought us a massive financial crisis, need to be reformed completely, and so far have resisted any meaningful change."