By Katie Kieffer
There are three women on Wall Street who have literally gone wild. No, they didn’t strip off their matronly suits on a GGW spring break tour bus. Rather, they are on a mission to strip Congress, small businesses and individual Americans of proper authority, rights and freedoms and replace these with their own rules and regulations for how to play the financial game on both Wall Street and Main Street.
These three women, who graced the May 24 cover of TIME Magazine and were touted as the “Sheriffs of Wall Street,” are an embarrassment to my sex. Rather than advancing equality between the sexes, their self-centered political agendas do the following:
- Send the message that women do not understand finance or business, and this makes them insecure. So, they use their authority to control and regulate finance and business.
- Reinforce the notion that the only way men will take women seriously is if they exert “control” over men.
- Teach young women to prioritize power over finding solutions.
- Dismiss equality entirely and send the message that women should referee men and dole out red cards – not play the soccer game with them.
Let me introduce you to these women, one by one. You can decide if they are on a mission to “protect consumers” or if they are on a quest to disprove an imagined bureaucracy of male chauvinists on Wall Street. If the latter is their goal, then the bigger question is whether cracking down on business and the financial industry is a good way to achieve this goal.
Mary Schapiro – SEC Chair
Now here’s a woman who should know a thing or two about the original “Girls Gone Wild.” After all, the SEC’s senior level employees happily surfed for porn on the job when they were supposed to be looking out for consumers like you and me. They were looking out all right – for their own erotic pleasure.
In the wake of the May 6th “flash crash” in the Dow Jones, the SEC Chair is pushing for a European-style circuit breaker system that would stop trading if designated stocks rise more than 10 percent within a five minute window.
That’s right, the U.S. is now looking to Europe as the new paragon of excellence when it comes to financial stability. Apparently, the PIIGS aren’t a concern for the SEC. I would suggest that Congressmen, like Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Kentucky) may want to think twice before pushing for new “emergency powers” for the SEC.
What no one seems to be talking about is that the SEC has been pushing for new circuit breakers to “manage” stock plunges since at least February of this year, but Schapiro has received resistance from two of the SEC’s five commissioners, Kathleen L. Casey and Troy A. Paredes who think Schapiro is motivated by an overt political agenda.
So, just like the SEC pounced at the chance to paint Goldman Sachs as the poster child for “evil profiteers” on Wall Street, the SEC is now capitalizing on the May 6th stock market plunge to push for largely unproven circuit breakers.
You start to question why Schapiro is pushing so furtively for European-style circuit breakers when, as finance expert Terry Savage points out:
- “…the Securities and Exchange Commission has not yet found, or disclosed, the cause of the unprecedented May 6 move in the markets…” AND
- “Yes, the market might appear “safer” as a result of these steps [implementing circuit breakers] because they will at least temporarily halt precipitous slides. But markets frequently trade on emotion — and even computer programs will reflect both fear and greed on the part of those who set them in motion.”
Like Bair and Warren, my assessment is that Schapiro is out to prove she’s a woman who can acquire as much or more power as any man. And, also like Bair and Warren, Schapiro shares a belief that women need to stand together (presumably against men) in the fight for financial regulation.
After speaking to a derivatives and commodities group, she admitted to scanning the crowd for a friendly “female” face. (Because guys are just so mean.) It took her a while to find that face, and, when she did, it was Bair. Obviously, women who actually understand business, do not flock to listen when Schapiro speaks.
Elizabeth Warren – TARP Oversight Panel Chair
I wanted to give Elizabeth Warren the benefit of the doubt. I really did. But, it’s hard to give someone the benefit of the doubt when they publicly admit their ulterior motives.
Warren recently admitted that her motivation for power and control, stems from emotional scarring she endured as a twenty-something summer legal associate when a partner told her, “You know, being a summer associate is all well and good, but take a deep breath. Try to figure out if you think these guys are ever going to make a woman partner.” Highlighting her competitive personality, she said, “It made me think, I can do that.”
Now there’s nothing wrong with an ambitious or powerful woman. But, there is a problem if a woman’s (or man’s) motivation for power stems from a desire to “disprove” those who said they “couldn’t” and their decisions reflect raw ambition and an irrational disregard for the good of society.
Warren was hand-picked by Sen. Harry Reid to chair the TARP Congressional Oversight Panel. During her time in liberal academia, Warren authored an article advocating for a brand new federal agency (because we don’t have enough already.)
President Obama pushed to include this new agency in the Senate version of the financial regulation bill even though the U.S. Chamber of Commerce recognizes that the proposed “Consumer Financial Protection Agency” could cause so much damage to job creators that it has already spent millions trying to educate the public and advocate for an alternative plan. Predictably, the sisterhood of Bair and Schapiro is support Warren and the President on this move to fence in the private sector.
Most recently, Warren applauded the Senate’s passage of the sweeping financial regulation bill this week. Either Warren doesn’t care or she simply doesn’t understand that this new legislation will hurt job makers and small businesses.
Warren ignored this warning from Thomas J. Donohue, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce: “If you want to drive capital out of the United States, this is your bill. Today we have taken a significant step in the wrong direction, and it will put American companies and our financial system at a competitive disadvantage to the detriment of our long-term economic growth.”
Sheila Bair – FDIC Chair
Chairwoman Bair sounds like a woman on a mission.
She sarcastically told TIME Magazine that she can’t wait until retirement when she can write her memoir titled, “The Audacity of This Woman.”
Bair also admitted to TIME that she still stings from her loss when she ran for the Kansas House of Representatives in 1990. Her former boss, Sen. Bob Dole, told her he thought she lost because she “was a woman” and “was unmarried.” Bair explained to TIME, “That made me all the more determined to take on new challenges.”
Bair’s power grabs include swiping authority from the Federal Reserve. Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner may be a tax cheat, but Bair is an authority cheat. If regulating lending standards doesn’t fall under her purview, for instance, she’ll push and shove until it does. She’ll meet privately with banks, and if they balk at her requests, she’ll publicly pressure and embarrass them. She will issue guidances such as the “Policy Statement on Prudent Commercial Real Estate Loan Workouts” that are impractical and ineffective – doing more harm than good to our economy.
Most recently, Bair backed Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) in writing an amendment to the Senate’s financial reform bill that, according to The Wall Street Journal, “would force banks with more than $250 billion in assets to meet higher capital requirements…” The amendment, which was written to sound like a mere technicality to senators, passed unanimously under the radar last week and is now receiving widespread attention.
Rather than helping the economy, the amendment would undoubtedly do great harm to the banking industry and small businesses looking for loans. The American Banking Association (ABA) trade group, along with the Federal Reserve and the Treasury, oppose the amendment and are trying to abort it.
Collins’ amendment imposes such unprecedentedly high capital ratios on banks that Edward Yingling, chief executive of ABA states, “I don’t believe that the senators understood the full implications of this amendment. It would cause a severe capital crunch for many banks, resulting in the major decrease in lending capability.”
Despite this obvious problem with the amendment, and outcry from the financial industry, Collins refuses to alter her amendment – primarily because Bair supported it. And, in Collins’ words, “That’s good enough for me.”
Sounds like a case of “She’s a woman and I’m a woman so I’m going to stand by her and show you the power of sisterhood – regardless of the potentially devastating economic implications of her ideas.” Not exactly a good philosophy for public service, but it works if your goal is to be a cover model for TIME Magazine.