Certainly, Warren is not the commercial banking industry's first pick to serve in this new role. And unlike other legislation in which an industry's lobbying effort would naturally slow or cease once the legislation is passed, the new financial reform bill is continuing to attract enormous lobbying action from the banks. The reason is simple. The bill has been written to put a great deal of power as to how strongly it is implemented in the hands of its regulators, some of which remain to be chosen. The bank lobby will work incredibly hard to see that Warren, the person most responsible for initiating and fighting for the idea of a consumer financial protection group, is denied the opportunity to head it.
But this is not the only reason that Geithner is opposed to Warren's nomination. I believe Geithner sees the appointment of Elizabeth Warren as a threat to the very scheme he has utilized to date to hide bank losses, thus keeping the banks solvent and out of bankruptcy court and their existing management teams employed and well-paid.
And this is where defeat of the nomination of Elizabeth Warren becomes critical for Geithner. For Geithner's strategy to work, the banks have to find increasing sources of profitability in their business segments to balance out their annual loan loss recognition from their existing bad loans in an environment in which they continue to recognize new losses in prime residential mortgages, commercial real estate lending, sovereign debt investments, bridge loans to private equity groups, leverage buyout lending and credit card defaults.
The banks have made no secret as to where they will find this increase in cash flow. They intend to soak their small retail customers, their consumer and small business borrowers, their credit card holders and their small depositors with increased costs and fees and are continuing many of the bad mortgage practices that led to the crisis (ARM's, option pay deals, zero down payments, second mortgages, teaser rates, etc). American and Banking Market News reports this week that the rule changes in the financial reform bill may lead banks to start implementing fees that had essentially disappeared from the industry early in the new millennium, such as fees for not meeting minimum balance requirements on a checking account, or reinstituting fees for certain online banking transactions that are currently free or charging to receive a paper statement or to talk to a live teller as Bank of America's CEO has recently proposed.
As to the other two potential nominees on Obama's short list for the position, Michael S.Barr is Geithner's boy currently working for him as an Assistant Secretary at Treasury. More importantly, he is Bob Rubin's boy, having served as Rubin's assistant in the Clinton administration. If you are Rubins' boy, you are the bank lobby's boy as this position of Rubin's boy was previously held by Summers and then Geithner. Eugene Kimmelman seems like a nice enough person who has no background in finance. If the banking lobby can't get their guy in, the next best thing is to get a completely clueless person in who is too afraid to act boldly given he couldn't tell a CDO from a CEO. He has been the top lobbyist for the Consumers Union, so he is pro-lobbying and as a positive comment, really understands how toasters and garage door openers work.
Elizabeth Warren won't just protect consumers, her Oklahoma bred sense of honesty, fairness and decency just might reinvigorate and redirect a government and a banking industry that for too long has seen the average American taxpayer and the typical small consumer as the enemy to be taken advantage of at every turn.
If you want to help make sure Elizabeth Warren is appointed to head the new consumer finance protection agency, please take a minute and sign this online petition that will be presented to the President and then use the accompanying email opportunity to invite your friends to do the same.
She's a dangerous woman to the status quo. Besides, Liz is gorgeous. Go sign.