Last week, in a much-discussed, open, live, televised forum, Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase, asked Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke the $64 trillion question. While most commentators focused on the apt question, it was Bernanke's answer that shocked me when I heard it -- and ought to shock the nation much more than it so far has.
Question: "Now we're told there are going to be even higher capital requirements, and we know there are 300 (financial regulatory) rules coming, has anyone bothered to study the cumulative effect of these things? And do you have a fear -- like I do -- that when we look back and look at them all that they will be the reason that it took so long for our banks, our credit, our businesses and most importantly, our job creation, to start going again? Is this holding us back at this point?"
Answer: "Nobody has looked at it in all detail, but we certainly are trying, as in each part to develop a system that is coherent and that is consistent with banks performing their vital social function in terms of extending credit."
Before breaking ground on the construction of a building, bridge or other substantial construction project, the architect calculates the cumulative stresses on all the load-bearing parts of his structure -- so that he can be sure that when the thing is built, it will not collapse of its own weight and kill thousands of its occupants.
After President Obama, Bernanke is the man with the most comprehensive responsibility for designing the new financial regulatory structure of the U.S. (and in fact, of the entire world -- as Bernanke and the United States are also the dominant force in designing the coordination between the U.S and European and Asian financial regulatory structures).
The bald-faced admission that there has been not even an effort at assessing the cumulative load-bearing effect of the proposed new regulations on our financial system brings into question the minimal competence of both the Federal Reserve governing board and the most senior elective and appointive level of the U.S. government -- which has the ultimate responsibility for the new financial regulations.
Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.
In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.