Business News

Why Do Regulators Meet with the Regulated?

Columbia Journalism Review this morning spotlights a Los Angeles Times article that documents and elucidates the relentless lobbying by financial firms.  Though most of the praise is directed toward the Times’ use of data to highlight the extent to which financial firms, having lost some key battles in Congress over the financial reform law, now relentlessly lobby the regulators, hoping to get lax enforcement written into the regulations.

The story documents that one law firm met three times with a regulator in two weeks, representing a different client each time.

At the end of the piece, CJR’s Ryan Chittum asks a pertinent question I’d like to see an enterprising story on: 

What’s unclear from the story is why [Commodity Futures Trading Commission Commissioner Bart] Chilton is meeting with these guys three times in two weeks if he doesn’t want to. Why can’t he just refuse the meetings? I have a feeling the answer just might be illuminating.

Why do regulators meet with the regulated?  Sure, they might like some insight on questions they are unclear on.  But one would hope the regulators know the industry well enough that they don’t need a primer three times in two weeks to hear the same complaints.

A recommendation to MSM who all send reporters to Congress detailing the same tit-for-tat verbal wars on the Hill everyday:  Free up a reporter to do some digging on this.  It can’t be that hard to lay out what happens between the regulated and the regulators.

Manufacturing Controversy

Alas, we’ve come to expect that the mark of journalism today is whether it can find stories that have the three C’s:  Currency, Celebrity, and Controversy.

We’ve heard the stories that Ben Bernanke was in trouble.  There were stories that he might not be confirmed.  So when I saw this headline,

Fed chief Bernanke wins 2nd term in closest vote

By JEANNINE AVERSA and JIM KUHNHENN, Associated Press Writers

I was wondering who the one or two Senators were who put him over the top.

WASHINGTON – Embattled Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke won confirmation for a second term Thursday, but only by the closest vote ever for the crucial post and after withering criticism from lawmakers for bailing out Wall Street while other Americans suffered in recession.

The Senate confirmed Bernanke for a new four-year term by a 70-30 vote, a seemingly solid majority but 14 votes worse than the closest previous vote for a Fed chairman.

No, AP, it wasn’t a “seemingly solid majority”; it was a solid majority.  It was a landslide, a mandate, even if it was closet vote ever for the post, especially in this poisoned partisan environment.