19 April 2011

Ron Paul
1999 Ron Paul Chapter 113

Conference Report On S. 900, Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act

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4 November 1999
Thursday, November 4, 1999

1999 Ron Paul 113:1
Mr. PAUL. Madam Speaker, today we are considering a bill aimed at modernizing the financial services industry through deregulation. It is a worthy goal which I support. However, this bill falls short of that goal. The negative aspects of this bill outweigh the benefits. Many have already argued for the need to update our financial laws. I would just add that I agree on the need for reform but oppose this approach.

1999 Ron Paul 113:2
With the economy more fragile than is popularly recognized, we should move cautiously as we initiate reforms. Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan (in a 1997 speech in Frankfurt, Germany and other times), Kurt Richebacher, Frank Veneroso and others, have questioned the statistical accuracy of the economy’s vaunted productivity gains.

1999 Ron Paul 113:3
Federal Reserve Governor Edward Gramlich today joined many others who are concerned about the strength of the economy when he warned that the low U.S. savings rate was a cause for concern. Coupled with the likely decline in foreign investment in the United States, he said that the economy will require some potentially “painful” adjustments — some combination of higher exports, higher interest rates, lower investment, and/or lower dollar values.

1999 Ron Paul 113:4
Such a scenario would put added pressure on the financial bubble. The growth in money and credit has outpaced both savings and economic growth. These inflationary pressures have been concentrated in asset prices, not consumer price inflation — keeping monetary policy too easy. This increase in asset prices has fueled domestic borrowing and spending.

1999 Ron Paul 113:5
Government policy and the increase in securitization are largely responsible for this bubble. In addition to loose monetary policies by the Federal Reserve, government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have contributed to the problem. The fourfold increases in their balance sheets from 1997 to 1998 boosted new home borrowings to more than $1.5 trillion in 1998, two-thirds of which were refinances which put an extra $15,000 in the pockets of consumers on average — and reduce risk for individual institutions while increasing risk for the system as a whole.

1999 Ron Paul 113:6
The rapidity and severity of changes in economic conditions can affect prospects for individual institutions more greatly than that of the overall economy. The Long Term Capital Management hedge fund is a prime example. New companies start and others fail every day. What is troubling with the hedge fund bailout was the governmental response and the increase in moral hazard.

1999 Ron Paul 113:7
This increased indication of the government’s eagerness to bail out highly-leveraged, risky and largely unregulated financial institutions bodes ill for the post S. 900 future as far as limiting taxpayer liability is concerned. LTCM isn’t even registered in the United States but the Cayman Islands!

1999 Ron Paul 113:8
Government regulations present the greatest threat to privacy and consumers’ loss of control over their own personal information. In the private sector, individuals protect their financial privacy as an integral part of the market process by providing information they regard as private only to entities they trust will maintain a degree of privacy of which they approve. Individuals avoid privacy violators by “opting out” and doing business only with such privacy-respecting companies.

1999 Ron Paul 113:9
The better alternative is to repeal privacy busting government regulations. The same approach applies to Glass-Steagall and S. 900. Why not just repeal the offending regulation? In the banking committee, I offered an amendment to do just that. My main reasons for voting against this bill are the expansion of the taxpayer liability and the introduction of even more regulations. The entire multi-hundred page S. 900 that reregulates rather than deregulates the financial sector could be replaced with a simple one-page bill.

1999 Ron Paul 113:7 highly-leveraged probably should be unhyphenated: highly leveraged.

1999 Ron Paul 113:9 privacy busting probably should be hyphenated: privacy-busting.

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