I received a call yesterday from a reporter inquiring about my recent post Occupy Wall Street’ Should ‘Occupy Washington. Having had a number of previous discussions with this reporter, I welcomed her question as to what I thought the OWS movement should look to achieve or demand.
I prefaced my comments by stating that I hope civil unrest and random violence do not come from these demonstrations. America needs a lot of things but we certainly do not need riots.
We discussed the seeming lack of leadership within the movement. I expressed my concern that I believe the Democratic Party supported by its friends in labor unions may look to hijack the movement. From there we discussed the fact that promoting platitudes and wanton generalities highlights the fact that the movement would seem to have a limited understanding of the real inner workings of Wall Street and its incestuous relationship with Washington.
To that end, she asked what three proposals I would put forth to advance this movement and the pursuit of of truth, transparency and integrity. Never one to be bashful when it comes to elevating these virtues, I offered the following:
1. Compel the Wall Street self-regulator FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority) to open its books and records. The OWS movement and all of America would learn a LOT about the incestuous nature of the relationship between Wall Street and Washington if FINRA were forced to provide real transparency as I have called for so often. Starting in early 2009 and repeatedly since then I have stated unequivocally that FINRA Must Open Its Books and Records.
FINRA’s own member firms called for real meaningful transparency from this self-regulatory organization and largely received lip service from FINRA’s board in response.
2. The OWS movement would do America a favor if it called for a thorough exposition of the scam that encompassed the auction-rate securities market. OWS and America have approximately 100 billion reasons to pursue this transparency, that being the approximate dollar value of the ARS which remain frozen in investor accounts. Please recall that ARS were sold as ‘cash surrogates’.
3. Why should OWS and America demand accountability on points 1 and 2? For the very simple reason that Wall Street’s incestuous partners in Washington have failed to perform despite efforts and overtures made by many individuals and organizations, including the Project on Government Oversight.
Why might those in Washington fail to pursue their counterparts on Wall Street? Do you think the campaign contributions and other means of support provided by Wall Street for those in Washington on both sides of the aisle may impede our pursuit of transparency? I thank the aforementioned reporter for pointing me in the direction of OpenSecrets.org Center for Responsive Politics.
So let’s check in on a few of our Washington heavyweights and see just how deeply in bed they are with the crowd on Wall Street by referencing Open Secrets.org great work.
- Chuck Schumer (D-NY)
- Spencer Bachus (R-AL)
- Barney Frank (D-MA)
- Chris Dodd (D-CT)
- Barack Obama
- John Boehner (R-OH)
Please review these links and see how much and how often Securities and Investment Firms have provided backing for their incestuous partners in Washington.
Anybody for meaningful campaign finance reform? How about term limits? What do you say we just start with a little bit of transparency and a healthy dose of the truth? The stench of this incest is overwhelming.
Larry is a Wall Street veteran, having worked at such banks as First Boston, Bear Stearns and Union Bank. He blogs at www.senseoncents.com