Friday, May 27, 2011

This is why we cannot trust government any more than the markets

Barney Frank. 

Truth be told, I trust the markets more than I trust many people in Washington, D.C.  Gretchen Morgenson's interview with Dave Davies:
One of the really big beneficiaries (of Fannie Mae lobbying and political favors), albeit indirectly, was Congressman Barney Frank of Massachusetts. Back in 1991, when Congress was writing the legislation that would, you know, enhance or improve the oversight of Fannie Mae, or so they thought, Frank actually called up the company and asked them to hire his companion, who had just gotten an MBA from the Amos Tuck School of Business.

Of course the company was happy to provide a job for his companion and rolled out the red carpet in a series of interviews with a variety of executives, and it ultimately did hire the man. And he stayed there for I believe seven years.

So that was an example of the kind of thing that Fannie Mae would do. Now, when I asked Mr. Frank about this, I asked him, did it have any impact on his approach to the company. You know, was it a conflict? Did he feel that it had been a conflicted, put him in a conflicted spot? And he said absolutely not, that he didn't really remember being interested or having much to do with the 1992 legislation.

But the record shows that he was very aggressive and really tough on those who were testifying in Congress about reining in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. He was very aggressive to, for instance, the head of the Congressional Budget Office at that time, who was trying to call for increased capital requirements and to call for a focus on safety and soundness at Fannie Mae, that Frank really took him apart in testimony.
Via Greg Mankiw. Photo link here.

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