August 2, 2012

Wall Street Pursues Image Rehab

The Partnership for a Secure Financial Future is working on image rehab for the financial industry.

They released a lovely video that features a slew of financial services employees talking about how they help their community and why they like their jobs.The Partnership is supported by the Consumer Bankers Association, Mortgage Bankers AssociationFinancial Services Institute, and The Financial Services Roundtable.

Directly next in line to this video is a written report commending themselves for their “industry initiative” for “these dramatic improvements” in banking.  It then calls for a re-examination of the Dodd-Frank, “provisions and combination of provisions that needlessly restrict economic growth, limit credit, result in higher costs and reduced access for consumers, and make U.S. companies less competitive.”  Additionally, they claim that, “too-big-to-fail is no longer a problem.” A fact that Dallas federal reserve chief Richard Fischer, many congressmen, Citigroup architect Sandy Weill, and numerous economists disagree with.

According to an study done by a private business and image consultant group quoted by the report, “The Volcker rule will cost American businesses up to $315 billion, increase borrowing costs by $43 billion, and dramatically reduce liquidity.”  The Volcker rule, however, is the centerpiece of the Dodd-Frank reforms and one of the most important stops from preventing ordinary citizen’s money from being mixed up in big bets made by financial institutions.

This organization, The Financial Services Roundtable, presents financial services employees as their very diverse and human image, but then fights for the interests of the biggest banks, investors, and CEOs in the industry.  Its PAC spent $7.6 million lobbying in 2011 to increase ATM fees, deregulate insurance, and weaken Dodd-Frank.  Of the $480,000 in contributions it made to candidates, only $82,000 of that came from individuals.  The rest of its donations came from large PAC to PAC donations representing big insurance, banking, and financial interests.

Despite the pleasant-looking video of financial service employees telling the viewer that they aren’t the bad guys, the website and video is made as part of an oddly timed corporate social responsibility campaign like we have seen from tobacco and soda.  The website is only the friendly surface of a very well-funded campaign to erode important Dodd-Frank reforms and roll back regulation to benefit the largest banks, not the average employees.