Weil on Finance, P.M.: What Makes Richard Fisher Tick
Happy Friday afternoon, View fans. Here is a sampling of what I’ve been reading today. Have a great weekend.
Can’t-miss profile of Richard Fisher in Texas Monthly
Wonderful piece by Erica Grieder about the Dallas Fed president. Texas Monthly used to be far-and-away the best regional magazine in the country. And then like a lot of other magazines it fell off a cliff. Nice to see it still can do great work. This article covers Fisher’s whole life story -- from childhood poverty, through his failed 1994 campaign as a Democrat for a U.S. Senate seat, to his current post -- and will leave you with a much better understanding of why he has consistently opposed most of what the Fed has done post-2008: “Fisher was among the fiscal conservatives who supported those programs as part of the emergency effort to stabilize the economy. Since then, however, he has been a vocal opponent of the `too big to fail’ mentality, which strikes him as dangerous, even un-American. And while the prevailing wisdom among Democrats has been that the government should do more to help kick-start the economy, Fisher has maintained that it’s done more than enough.”
Why does Finra act like it’s hiding something?
Great work here by Jean Eaglesham and Rob Barry of the Wall Street Journal, who filed open-records requests in every state to get a nationwide look at how often stock brokers jump from one fly-by-night brokerage to another after their firms get shut down. The fellow they used as the story’s poster child left his 10th brokerage firm in June, after regulators accused it of fraud. It always has bothered me that the industry’s “self-regulatory” body, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, refuses to let outsiders search its database of disciplinary records for anything beyond the name of one single broker or firm at a time. All of this data should be public information. Yet Finra won’t release its complete database. It’s a bad sign when a regulator that’s supposed to be serving the public interest isn’t comfortable with public scrutiny.
Sotheby’s strikes back against Third Point’s Dan Loeb
This is the line of the day. From the Dealbook page at the New York Times: “Poison pen is being met with poison pill.” After Loeb’s blistering letter this week, in which the hedge-fund manager called on Sotheby’s chief executive officer to resign, the auction house said it had adopted a shareholder-rights plan to “encourage anyone seeking to acquire the company to negotiate with the board prior to attempting a takeover.”
Mary Jo White is right about this
During a speech last night, the Securities and Exchange Commission chairman criticized parts of the Dodd-Frank Act that use the SEC’s disclosure powers to exert “societal pressure on companies to change behavior, rather than to disclose financial information that primarily informs investment decisions.” She went on: “That is not to say that the goals of such mandates are not laudable. Indeed, most are. Seeking to improve safety in mines for workers or to end horrible human-rights atrocities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are compelling objectives, which, as a citizen, I wholeheartedly share. But, as the chair of the SEC, I must question, as a policy matter, using the federal securities laws and the SEC’s powers of mandatory disclosure to accomplish these goals.”
There is humor at the Federal Reserve, but it’s very dry
The Liberty Street Economics blog on the New York Fed’s website has a funny look at why the names of central banks are so boring and unoriginal. For instance, the central bank of Trinidad and Tobago is the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago. And the writer of the article, Amy Farber, finds this fascinating.
(Jonathan Weil is a Bloomberg View columnist. Follow him on Twitter.)