Saturday, July 2, 2011

Afghanistan Gets Banking Reform: US Doesn't

[The challenge of fixing Kabul Bank has posed a daunting task for the Afghan government. It has responded, under international pressure, by stripping the shareholders of their ownership, putting the bank into receivership and breaking it into two parts: the “New Kabul Bank” for depositors and functioning loans, and another part functioning as a collection agency for the bad loans.]

[{Tim} Geithner’s main function in crafting what became the Dodd-Frank Act and the lobbying around its key provisions was to argue for weaker rather than stronger ones. Backbenchers in Congress like Senators Merkley, Levin, Kaufman, Reed of Rhode Island, and Franken were instead the advocates of strong reforms. Geithner explicitly opposed many efforts by progressive senators to toughen the bill, as when he opposed a ban on “naked” credit-default swaps (the Dorgan Amendment) or setting explicit limits on the market share of large banks or returning to the strict separations between speculation and investment of the Glass-Steagall Act. Obama, to Geithner’s great discomfort, invoked that reform as the “Volcker Rule,” but then Geithner successfully fought to undermine a serious version of it.]

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