Thursday, August 09, 2012


I knew already that the Dodd-Frank bill compelled banks to make high risk home loans in the hopes that cause and effect could be magically reversed. I remembered that it had some internationally intrusive features too. The scope is startling broad. Any company that deals in the US at any level is at risk from US regulators at any level.
Not only will they have to comply with the rules of federal bodies such as the US Securities and Exchange Commission, the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, there are also state bodies, such as The New York State Department of Financial Services, which is the regulator that accused Standard Chartered.

It is 10 months old and supervises some 4,500 institutions with assets of about $6.2 trillion.

Yet many had not even heard of it until this week.

I should probably give people the benefit of the doubt and assume they mean well, though I'm extremely skeptical of that titular pair. Still, it takes a certain deliberate blindness to forget the "sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander" rule, especially given how many Americans have wound up in hot water for exercising free speech in lands that don't allow it.

And to be fair, Berlin and Brussels are no slouches at "These are our rules so they're your rules too."

But there's a bit of difference between requiring transparency in accounting and demanding boycotts of Iran. If money is flowing through the US it should flow honestly, and if goods are sold here they shouldn't be unexpectedly poisonous; but dealings outside the US aren't under our authority.

Some things companies/countries do are utterly vile: Chinese organ harvesting, for example. Boycotts there sound like an excellent idea: but not enforced by the state. Others are a lot more ambiguous: child labor, for instance. No question that it can be terribly abusive, but it can also be life-saving. So how do we get the right to regulate them?

But they're our laws (written by staffers) passed by our representatives (who don't pay us any mind, but never mind that--they don't generally read the laws anymore either) and interpreted and enforced by our bureaucrats (who might as well be on the moon for all the input they ask from us): they must be good for us and for all the world as well.

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