After getting up at the crack of dawn today, I saw the headlines about Lehman, Merrill Lynch and AIG. Of course, we had a feeling news was coming of an economic meltdown after what happened with Fannie and Freddie, as well as Bear Stearns.
But when I heard this statement from John McCain, I had to wonder, “Which one of us is living in a delusional parallel universe?”
Our economic fundamentals are sound? I’m not sure what “fundamentals” he’s talking about, but I do know this — just because you say the sky is green doesn’t make it green. But I guess McCain thinks if he and his surrogates say it enough, we’ll believe it, even though I can hear squeaky bed springs all around the country as people are taking their money and stashing it under their mattresses.
Lots of pundits are attributing our economic problems to the sub-prime mortgage crisis. But I say it’s more than that. After spending over six years as an attorney at the Securities and Exchange Commission in the late ’90s and a little beyond, I can tell you that no matter what kind of leash, and no matter how slack that leash was that regulators tried to put on the banking and investment world, lobbyists and corporations won out more often than not. Yes, there are plenty of rules and guidelines on the books, but if they’re watered down and the agencies tasked with enforcing them don’t get the money for enough staff to be real watchdogs, then nothing will change to protect our bank accounts, our investment portfolios or our home mortgages.
Corporate cries of, “The expense of the regulation will be too costly and hurt investors!” and “Free markets are the best regulation!” won out time and again over the stories of investor after investor who had lost their savings precisely because there wasn’t enough timely oversight.
As far as I can tell, we’re not going to be helped by the political rose-colored glasses McCain and his people seem to have slipped on. They might make things look good in the parallel economic universe he’s made for himself where he thinks all families look like his, with the cushion of millions of dollars in trust money he can comfortably sit on.
But for the rest of us, who are worried about whether banks are going to go under and whether the money we were all told would be safe in our long-term investments really will be, someone better find a way pretty fast to deal with that’s going on in this financial universe. No matter how cute or savvy that gecko is, he can’t solve all our money problems.