Reg Reform Is Cool
Not only did House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank finally pass regulatory reform legislation in the House last week, he also got a shout-out during an episode of "Gossip Girl."
On the show, the fictional freshman Congressman Trip van der Bilt, D-N.Y., takes a break from his affair with the socialite Serena van der Woodsen to take a call on his cell phone from the Massachusetts Democrat. "You've been avoiding work all week," van der Woodsen says to her paramour afterward. "Who was important enough for you to finally take the call?"
"Barney Frank," he replies. "He asked me to serve on the finance subcommittee."
"That's so exciting," she says, genuinely impressed.
If this is received well, maybe other real-life regulators and policymakers will appear on prime-time TV. Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Sheila Bair could drop by and teach finance to the students of "90210." Or Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, could use powers of transparency to shine the light on the Federal Reserve Board in an episode of "Heroes." To bolster his re-election campaign, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd might call for an investigation into the crash of Oceanic Flight 815 on "Lost." Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner could even ask Michael Scott of "The Office" to negotiate Citigroup's capital repayment.
Another Tarp Exit
Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, has left the Congressional Oversight Panel, which oversees the Troubled Asset Relief Program.
Mark McWatters, a Dallas lawyer who has been Hensarling's adviser with the panel, will succeed him.
Hensarling was the only lawmaker on the five member board and was an outspoken critic of Tarp.
In a statement, Hensarling's spokesman said the lawmaker left because he had finished out his year on the board. He resigned from the panel the same day the Treasury announced it was extending Tarp to Oct. 3, 2010.
In his resignation letter, Hensarling said, "With some notable exceptions, I have been disappointed with the panel's work that too often focuses upon making policy recommendations to Congress in place of critical and badly needed oversight."
Scrooge came to Washington and took away the industry's annual holiday parties.
In a nod to the backlash against banks and their regulators, both the American Bankers Association and the Fed canceled their holiday parties. The Treasury Department held a much more scaled-back party, leaving the Financial Services Roundtable as the only industry group to continue its celebration. The Roundtable held its party at its Washington office, although the affair wasn't as lavish as the ABA's usual is.
The Treasury has held past holiday season parties in the historic Cash Room, with reporters and several Treasury officials on hand. This year its media party was at an Irish bar and only a handful of officials showed up. Geithner was there briefly to shake hands.
Moving Up at OTS
The Office of Thrift Supervision announced three promotions last week.
Michael Simone, deputy director for the Northeast region, will be assistant deputy director of examinations, supervision and consumer protection starting Jan. 4.
James Canton's new title is managing director of economic and industry analysis. Canton has worked in the agency's supervision, research and financial monitoring divisions.
Michael Solomon, the OTS' director of capital policy since 2005, was named managing director of risk management.