Who’s Protecting the People from Banks?
If going head to head with bankers alone is too scary for Warren Buffett, why are the rest of us being thrown to the financial wolves?
Warren Buffett's annual letter to his shareholders came out this weekend. The gist of it is “Don’t ask the barber whether you need a haircut."
That's Buffett, one of the world's richest men, warning his clients that their financial advisers' advice is skewed by the financial system in which they operate -- which is a very biased place.
Merit or no merit -- and no matter how it turns out -- bankers make fees off deal making, so deal-making's what they push. There' s no banker's bonus for advising clients to wise up or sit tight.
So investors need independent protection, argues Buffett. Don't go it alone.
If only Buffett worked for us.
In the Senate, chair Christopher Dodd seems to have given up on protecting consumers. An independent agency to protect against abuse by financial institutions was supposed to be the consumer part of the quid pro quo for accepting the taxpayer bailout of banks.
Now -- ironically, just as Buffett's letter was being published, the man it'll take to make it happen -- Christopher Dodd -- is agreeing to defang the agency, strip it of independence and most prosecution power -- its a victory for all those Republicans and business groups who've poured billions --inclulding billions of bailout dollars - into lobbying against any agency with teeth.
Dodd seems to be giving up. But he hasn't even fought for the agency yet. He could start by inviting the Oracle of Omaha to testify. Banks too skewed for Berkshire Hathaway investors shouldn't be loosed on us.
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