President Obama does not care for all for "The Street." He doesn’t trust big money. He wants to hammer the “fat cats.” And, with Elizabeth Warren as his assistant, and special advisor to the Treasury, he will get it.
Ms. Warren would not win Senate confirmation as director of the new, proposed, Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (BCFP) but in the position she was appointed to today, she will be able to shape the staffing, policy and direction of the agency that will oversee the world of the small investor for decades to come.
So here are four things to consider as we look ahead a couple of years, to the kind of environment the BCFP will introduce:
1. Lawyers will have a field day. Financial companies will have to warn their clients against any and all risks, and they must do so in plain language. Really? How are they to assess the risk of an adjustable rate mortgage, when the future of interest rates is simply unknown? And how do they present that risk without resort to hedged, legalistic language? I can hear the lawyers’ opening statement: “My poor client didn’t know she could lose money.The banker didn’t tell me, and the paper she signed was far too complicated.”
2. Financial companies will shy away from any and all risk with their clients money. Sounds good, but remember, no risk, no reward. If the new regime were in place today, and a broker wanted to avoid all risk for a client’s money, it would be placed in a one year Treasury. Dead safe. The client would definitely get back the $100 investment, along with 23 cents interest for the year. Not quite what most investors want.
3. A no risk, lawyer-rich environment, restricts Wall Street profits. That’s what President Obama wants.
4. Limited profit, in a limited risk environment results in less innovation in finance. That’s not the style that produced more quality jobs than just about any other industry in the last generation, and which financed America’s technology leadership.
It should come as no surprise that the financial world is worried by this impending regulatory shift. But Wall Street backed candidate Obama heavily. They just didn't see Elizabeth Warren coming.
Stuart Varney is host of "Varney and Company" on the Fox Business Network.
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