Paulson’s Reform Proposal – Are There Any Solid Hits In His Game?

I woke up this morning to universal panning of the proposal out of Mr. Paulson’s Treasury Department to wholesale revamp the regulatory structure for financial institutions. 

You name it, they’ve all led with negative headlines.  

Paulson the Plumber
Paulson’s April Fool’s Joke Is Wall Street Gift
Doubts Greet Treasury Plan on Regulation
Dreams End With Collapse of Tinker Bell Market
Paulson’s bogus plan to regulate the markets
Lobbyists, Small Banks Attack Plan For Markets

In fact, one of the only somewhat generous headlines was Jake’s:

Paulson to Individual Investors: Drop Dead?
I know it was wishful thinking, but I secretly hoped The Daily News would revive its famous headline in its story today about Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson’s plan to restructure Wall Street’s regulatory framework.

By any measure, Paulson’s plan shows a certain disregard for individual investors, who have suffered the brunt of Wall Street’s extensive wrongdoings of the past few years. The plan doesn’t even pay lip service for the pressing need to bolster investor protections for individual investors and threatens to usurp the authority of state regulators, who have a decidedly more impressive record pursuing Wall Street wrongdoing than the SEC. The plan’s only beneficiary is Wall Street, which has long wanted more streamlined regulation because it would ease their regulatory burdens…

But there was actually one small nugget of excitement in the plan that others seem to have missed. So, rest assured on this rainy cold April 1st in Washington DC, this blog will highlight it for you.

In an unprecedented and totally innovative move, the US Treasury has agreed to sell the rights to name one of the new agencies to a large financial services firm.

Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. is trying to turn the complicated muddle that is the U.S. banking regulatory system into something more coherent. To that end, he would replace a sprawling set of regulators aiming to ensure the soundness of the nation’s financial institutions — including the bank-supervision arm of the Fed, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Office of Thrift Supervision and the National Credit Union Administration — with a single Prudential Financial Regulatory Agency.

I’m here in DC today and, last night at the sushi bar, I heard a couple of guys with big Rolex’s, bombed on sake, saying that the Treasury got US$ 10 billion over ten years from Prudential under this plan. The Treasury gets some more money to bail out more investment banks and, boy, are they going to need it. Prudential gets the opportunity to put a banner advertising their insurance and annuity products behind the podium whenever Secretary Paulson makes a speech. 

It’s a win-win.

I bet President Bush came up with this idea. After all, he’s a former baseball team owner. He knows how much money everyone in sports is making from these branding exercises. Unfortunately, when Prudential runs into problems, they’ll have to find another firm to sell the rights to. That’s what they had to do when Enron Field in Houston had to become Minute Maid Park after “you know what” happened.

Maybe they can call it the, “Chase Me and Find The Money Agency, ” or maybe “I Be A Goldman, He Be A Goldman, But Investors Be An Out Of Luck Man Agency,” or how about, “Merrily We Roll Along To A Pauper’s Retirement Agency.”

I’m sure there will be plenty of takers willing to pay the government to protect their interests if the need arises.

1 reply
  1. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    I suppose we should be happy that Conseco doesn’t have $11b to outbid Pru.

    April Fool!

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