Oh yeah, there's a new sheriff in town.
Previous diaries have illuminated the sputtering non-responses of regulators (Comptroller of Currency, SEC, etc.) to Sen. Warren's (sort of rhetorical) questions, who were not able to say when they had taken any banker to trial.
But the true sign that her line of questioning struck a nerve with bankers accustomed to the comfy status quo, was in the immediate, terrified howling pushback by numerous banking executives - who refuse to come out into the open and identify themselves, rather remain anonymous.
Elizabeth Warren asked why banks traded below book value while most corporations trade above book value. She proposed some possible explanations:
"One would be because nobody believes that the banks' books are honest," she said. "Second, would be that nobody believes that the banks are really manageable. That is, if they are too complex either for their own institutions to manage them or for the regulators to manage them."Predictably, the banksters did not take kindly to having the curtain pulled back:
She also earned significant ire from bankers with her line that one reason big banks mostly trade below book value may be that “nobody believes” their books are honest. Most of the complaints came on background or off the record given that these bankers have to deal with Warren in the Senate for at least six years and perhaps much longer and are (apparently quite justifiably) freaked out at the prospect.
As one top bank executive (who refused to identify himself and stand by his words) explained in an angry email to Politico's Morning Money, Sen. Warren is just plain wrong!
One top exec emailed: “While Senator Warren had every right to ask pointed questions at today’s Senate Banking Committee hearing, her claim that ‘nobody believes’ that bank books are honest is just plain wrong. As Federal Reserve Governor Tarullo explained in response to her question, the low valuations are more likely due to continued economic uncertainty and concerns on the part of investors regarding the impact on banks' profitability due to the hundreds of new regulations, higher levels of required capital, and significant activity restrictions.Ooh and some threats, I bet this has scared the (not) junior (anymore) Senator from MA:
“It is for these very important reasons that the financial services industry has urged regulators to get implementation right — that is, to carry out the instructions and intentions of Congress in a manner that produces a safe and sound, competitive and innovative industry. That's what today's hearing was supposed to be about — not some shameless grandstanding. Perhaps someone ought to remind the Senator that the campaign is over and she should act accordingly if she wants to be taken seriously.”Apparently Senator Warren does not know her proper place! This guy had the gall to equate Sen. Warren standing up to the banksters to the deals between Chuck Hagel and North Korea dreamt up in Ted Cruz's fevered imagination.
The anonymous banker followed up: “Elizabeth Warren and Ted Cruz are dueling for the title of "most extreme fringe freshman senator."But at least one banker was willing to be identified, even if his rationale undercut the previous theory that low valuations are the result of 'continued economic uncertainty'.
CONSUMER BANKERS ASSOCATION President and CEO Richard Hunt emails in response to Warren: “We have been through more tests and thorough exams than any college student over the past four years, including many conducted by the CFPB. The results of the Hamilton Partners Financial Index and the testimony of OCC Comptroller [Thomas] Curry were very clear: the United States banking system is safe and sound, supported by historic and permanent capital ratios. We are working every day to fulfill the financial needs of the American consumer and small business and will continue to work with any and all lawmakers who seek to assist in this extremely important process.”At long last, average Americans have a voice speaking for them against Wall St. banksters. Senator Warren came out swinging in her first committee hearing and we no doubt have much more of this to look forward to. There is indeed a new sheriff in town and she has gotten their attention.