Wonk Wire: Is Ben Bernanke the best Fed chairman ever?
“Rarely has the appointment of a new Fed chairman been accompanied by so much commotion, penetrating even the political dead zone of mid-August,” the Washington Post reports.
“The fight pits allies of Larry Summers, who also was Obama’s top economic adviser during the darkest days of the recession, against those of rival candidate Janet Yellen, the Fed vice chairman who has been an architect of the bank’s effort to reduce unemployment rates.”
“The opposing camps have waged high-profile media campaigns, featuring dueling op-eds in the nation’s top newspapers, interviews defending their candidates and comments on social media. But the battle also has played out behind the scenes.”
Wonk Wire: Can anyone forge a consensus like Bernanke?
Wonk Wire highlights how Larry Summers has kept his options open for one last stint in public service while earnings millions in a series of part time jobs.
National Journal: “Whether the next chair of the Federal Reserve Board is Janet Yellen, Lawrence Summers, or anyone else, there may be some trouble getting through the Senate. That’s at least if Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has his way. That’s because in the Fed Chair selection, Cruz sees a potential way to pass legislation that would amp up Fed oversight.”
Ezra Klein says President Obama wants Larry Summers as the next Fed chair but the White House is weighing the choice:
“On the merits, they think the preference many on the left have for Janet Yellen is a bit puzzling. Yellen and Summers are both strongly committed to reducing unemployment. They’re both committed to implementing Dodd-Frank — as much as the left mistrusts Summers on financial regulation for his actions in the 1990s, the White House believes that he, like many others, is strongly committed to regulating Wall Street now. They see a lot of the opposition to Summers is based on bad or outdated information.”
“But they’re not unaware that Summers is a polarizing choice. So some of what’s happening right now, I think, is that they’re figuring out whether opposition to Summers is soft or hard.”
Ezra Klein: “The word among Federal Reserve watchers right now is that the choice is down to Janet Yellen or Larry Summers as Ben Bernanke’s replacement… People dismissed Summers’s chances a month or two ago, but he’s increasingly viewed as the leading candidate today — and opinions on this, for reasons I don’t fully understand, have really hardened in the last 72 hours.”
Wall Street Journal: “The Obama administration has quietly begun assembling a short list of candidates for the Federal Reserve chairmanship, in the expectation that Ben Bernanke will step down when his second term ends in January.”
“Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew is putting together the list, working closely with a small number of senior White House officials. President Barack Obama could try to convince Mr. Bernanke to serve a third four-year term. But many of Mr. Bernanke’s friends and associates believe he wants to step down when his term expires.”
Federal regulators are poised to sue former New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine (D) “over the collapse of MF Global and the brokerage firm’s misuse of customer money during its final days, a blowup that rattled Wall Street and cast a spotlight on Mr. Corzine, the former New Jersey governor who ran the firm until its bankruptcy in 2011,” the New York Times reports.
Wonk Wire: Bye Bye Bernanke
Al Hunt: “Ben Bernanke’s term expires in January and he has told associates that the eight challenging years he will have served would be enough. Some people close to the president say his top personal choice to succeed Bernanke would be former Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. They established a close bond over four years.”
“Geithner, however, publicly and privately insists that he doesn’t want the job, and needs, for personal and financial reasons, more time in New York after years of government service. Even if he’s the president’s preferred pick, it’s uncertain that he would be pressured to take the job; that isn’t usually Obama’s style.”
The Week: “A bill called the Swaps Regulatory Improvement Act recently sailed through the House Financial Services Committee. But when the New York Times went through emails from a lobbyist to the congressmen who wrote it, the paper discovered an unofficial co-author: Citigroup.”
“It turns out that recommendations from Citigroup made up 70 of the bill’s 85 lines, with two important paragraphs copied almost verbatim — save for two words that were changed to make them plural.”
Fannie Mae “will make a $59.4 billion dividend payment to the U.S. Treasury, the company said Thursday after reporting a record first-quarter profit,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
“Fannie’s expected payment will bring to $95 billion the amount of dividends it has paid to the Treasury, compared to $116.1 billion in aid it absorbed between 2008 and 2011. If the profits of recent periods are sustained, Fannie could within the next year return more money to the Treasury than it has borrowed–though its payments aren’t going toward the actual repayment of its rescue funding.”
Matt Taibbi: “Conspiracy theorists of the world, believers in the hidden hands of the Rothschilds and the Masons and the Illuminati, we skeptics owe you an apology. You were right. The players may be a little different, but your basic premise is correct: The world is a rigged game. We found this out in recent months, when a series of related corruption stories spilled out of the financial sector, suggesting the world’s largest banks may be fixing the prices of, well, just about everything.”
“You may have heard of the Libor scandal, in which at least three – and perhaps as many as 16 – of the name-brand too-big-to-fail banks have been manipulating global interest rates… That was bad enough, but now Libor may have a twin brother. Word has leaked out that the London-based firm ICAP, the world’s largest broker of interest-rate swaps, is being investigated by American authorities for behavior that sounds eerily reminiscent of the Libor mess. Regulators are looking into whether or not a small group of brokers at ICAP may have worked with up to 15 of the world’s largest banks to manipulate ISDAfix, a benchmark number used around the world to calculate the prices of interest-rate swaps.”
National Journal: “As head of the Securities and Exchange Commission for the past four years, Mary Schapiro failed to win a major civil action against any Wall Street executive connected to what may be the worst financial fraud in history, the subprime-mortgage scam that led to the 2008 crash. As head of the Justice Department’s criminal division for the past four years, Lanny Breuer failed to accomplish the same with criminal action. And now both are headed back over to the other side: deep-pocketed firms that earn their keep largely from Wall Street.”
A spokeswoman for the Bureau of Printing and Engraving tells the Washington Post that new Treasury Secretary Jack Lew’s very odd signature will appear on the nation’s currency in about 18 weeks.
Apparently, Lew “still has to submit his official signature to be used in the currency-production process, we’re told.”
David Stockman: “Over the last 13 years, the stock market has twice crashed and touched off a recession: American households lost $5 trillion in the 2000 dot-com bust and more than $7 trillion in the 2007 housing crash. Sooner or later — within a few years, I predict — this latest Wall Street bubble, inflated by an egregious flood of phony money from the Federal Reserve rather than real economic gains, will explode, too.”