Why Is The Chamber Of Commerce Defending Big Banks?

On Warren Olney’s radio show To The Point yesterday, I had a chance to talk with US Chamber of Commerce management directly regarding the issue posed here last week: Why would an organization representing 3 million small businesses come out in support of our largest banks?  My question was picked up and focused by the host.

Warren Olney (at the 36:35 mark): “Mr. Hirschmann, back to you.  Are you serving the interests of your own members, if you resist the idea of breaking up the big banks?”

David Hirschmann (leading the Chamber’s financial lobbying efforts): “I just don’t think the question is whether we need to break up the big banks.  The question is how do we ensure that the kinds of practices that they engaged in — and others outside the banking system — don’t happen any more.  Which is why we pointed to transparency in areas like derivatives and leverage.” [my transcription]

Mr. Hirschmann then goes on to talk about the consumer protection agency (he’s opposed).

The conflict between the Chamber’s principles and its actions becomes increasingly clear.

Hirschmann made some good statements, along the lines of: no one should have permanent access to the taxpayer’s pocket, and any firm – no matter how large – should go out of business if its managers make the wrong decisions.  This is exactly  what the representative of small business should say.

But, despite being given repeated opportunity to say something at least generally along the lines of Alan Greenspan last week (e.g., “too big to fail is too big to exist”), Hirschmann retreated into platitudes about the need to modernize our entire regulatory system.

At the same time, he emphasized that the Chamber is adamantly opposed to the main piece of this modernization – as proposed by the administration – which is a new agency to protect consumers vis-à-vis financial products.

He didn’t dispute that the actions of our largest financial players have seriously hurt small business people – through bringing about a massive financial crisis and deep rececession – but the Chamber apparently favors just reshuffling regulatory responsibilities and more “transparency” on all sides.

There is a long tradition in the United States of big business trampling on independent entrepreneurs, and of those entrepreneurs fighting back through the ballot box.  This time around, big banks captured their regulators, badly damaged small firms, and look set to do it again. 

Why is the Chamber of Commerce refusing to stand up for small business?

By Simon Johnson

62 responses to “Why Is The Chamber Of Commerce Defending Big Banks?

  1. The Chamber is part of this generational debt that will crash our kids:

    http://americaspeaksink.com/2009/10/baby-boomers-the-virus/

  2. Are the small business groups fighting hard on this front? Can they not get access to the already-spoken-for crooks?

    Certainly any smaller business has to realize how rentier size is the enemy, unless they have the same teabagger mental illness on that score.

    I’m reminded of how last year the smaller ethanol producers formed a new lobby group when they realized that the existing Renewable Fuels Association, dominated by ADM, wouldn’t always operate in their interest. (When the grocer lobby, where ADM is also a bigshot, blamed high food prices on ethanol mandates, ADM at the least didn’t object, though to their ethanol colleagues they denied that they actively took part in pushing that line. Either way the others were dismayed.)

  3. Most of these Chamber of Commerce guys are probably wistful for the Reagan years. They’ll find out soon enough that these large banks can and will crush them. When the time comes—

    Let them eat cake.

  4. Simon,
    The answer lies in the natur eo fthe National/U.S. Chamber of Commerce vs. the local Chamber of Commerce. Local units – generally at the City or County level, are still ifghting for small businesses, and many are starting to publicly distance themselves from the U.S. Chamber on this issues (as well as global climate change). In contrast, the U.S. Chamber – while it is nominally an umbrella for all those local chapters – is in fact a large business member organization. This means that the Goldman Sachs and Exxons of the world belong to the U.S. Chamber. THus its funding and lobbying are all set on keeping things that protect consumers (and aid small business) OFF the table. Cuts too far into members profit margins, you see.

  5. The failure is the ability of banks to invest in non-capital assets. Banks should not be in the stock market at all, and should exist only upon their lending of money to business or individuals backed by hard assets. As soon as bankers had the ability to invest in the market their interest in short term gain overrode all else. Greed won, and will always win. Banks should be broken up and the banking business separated from the investment business and insurance business. Common branding blurs the lines and makes the risky side look safe.

  6. Ted,
    Even William Kaufmann, who uses the characterization “Reaganesque” when addressing deregulation, points out that the repeal of Glass-Steagall’s prohibitions against bank holding companies owning other types of financial companies was passed with bipartisan support (38 of 45 Democratic Senators voted FOR Gramm-Leach, including Dodd, Schumer, Kennedy, Kerry and Reid.) Moreover, the bill was signed by President Clinton in 1999, ten years after Reagan left office.

    The above facts are not intended to argue against regulation. My concerns about regs are that they tend to close the proverbial barn door AFTER the horse is out and that they tend to be malleable as when the big five were exempted from the 12:1 leverage limitation.

    Another concern is unintended consequences of regulation: I remember the high interest rates, inflation, and slow economic growth of the 1970’s. In 1980, BEFORE Reagan took office in 1981, Congress put the first chink in the armor of Glass-Steagall with the good intention of alleviating downward pressure on thrift institutions. This action, along with the Tax Reform Act of 1986, which whipsawed certain real estate investors, contributed to the S & L Crisis. (Every year or two we have had a tax “reform” act which gives new blessings to some and takes away last year’s blessings from others giving Congress its immeasurable power. I digress.)
    I remember hearings into the S&L crisis which also exposed risky real estate lending and out-and-out fraud. No surprise here.Before the the dust settled on the S&L crisis, Congress moved in 1989 to reregulate creating Treasury oversight of S&L’s, plus an agency to regulate and supervise federal home loan banks, AND and a provision further empowering Fannie and Freddie. Need I go on…

  7. Ted,

    I forgot to mention that the makeup in 101st Congress in 1989 was 55 Democrats:45 Republicans in the Senate and 261 Dems:174 Republicans in the House. Where is Madame Defarge when we really need her??? The parties are equal opportunity screw ups who in my opinion have one concern—perpetual ride on the gravytrain.

  8. Why is the Chamber of Commerce refusing to stand up for small business? Because the Chamber is a ruse existing only to support the big business monopolies.

    Umm, I think they were called “Front Organizations” in the distant past. So many organizations that now claim to represent the grass roots, middle class causes, small banks, etc are really “Front Organizations” for the big boys. The same big boys only interested in the status quo, saying one thing and racking the $$ off with both fists.

  9. There really is no pretense any longer. Truly, America is a plutocracy which has slowing but surely been eroding all democratic or ethical fiber of this country. Big businesses and industry lobbyists have taken over Congress and possibly all three branches of governemnt. Citizens deprived of what should be an ordinary opportunity to work and be self sufficient as now required to hire themselves out as mercenaries to the armed forces.

  10. Between the two big parties I would still place my poker chips on the Democrats for better governance/decision making. But all your points are extremely well stated, valid, and acknowledged. No arguments here.

  11. As you (quite correctly) point out, our problem is both Democrats and Republicans. There is no conceivable reason to permit public guardians of other people’s money to gamble in financial markets. There goes the entire derivatives business if any Senator or Congressman had even a soupcon of intelligence or sophistication or interest in the public welfare. Yet, here we are, continuing under a Democratic administration to make apologies for the financial sector, with Larry Summers of all second grade apologist idiots in charge. The idea that you can regulate this business is insane. The banks cannot even prevent their own salesmen and traders from blowing them up.

    We are now in the late stage of the Ponzi scheme known as fractional reserve banking. An explosion of money creation is supporting the Treasury market. The banks are financing prop trading and hedge fund speculation in stocks, commodities and currencies, all through derivatives and regulatory arbitrage. Meanwhile, the real economy is comatose and fraudulent statistics and our Cheerleader in Chief claim all is well. How long can this continue? Only until the next crash. The vulnerability is the bond market.

    If people understood banking there would be a revolution.

  12. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce does NOT represent 3 million small businesses. Local Chambers of Commerce do, but the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has little interaction with the local Chambers. The U.S. Chamber only represents about 300,000 businesses…. which include big banks. Q.E.D.

  13. I agree.

    And I think the biggest contributor to this is the fact our political ship has been taking on water for years.

    Social engineering issues – conservative or liberal – control the nominating process with the effect of placing in office politicians who are simply not up to the job.

  14. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce sounds ust like the American Medical Association, the AMA, which represents only about 20% of doctors practicing in the USA. In the past, the AMA claimed there was a future glut of doctors and worked to restrict medical school admissions. Talk about a way to drive up the cost of medical care! And as you probably could have guessed, the same AMA now claims there is a shortage of physicians.

  15. An old joke: What do you call the guy who graduates last in his law school class?? Answer: Senator

  16. The “Chamber” is really a front group for big business.
    And it well knows of the reality of small business in
    this country, which is starkly (and painfully) described
    in this analysis:

    http://www.cepr.net/index.php/publications/reports/int-comp-small-business/

  17. the overwhelming majority of small businesses do not see the chamber of commerce as worth their time or money

    congress in its wish for expert testimonies is the x factor that gives the ama and the nra and the chamber of commerce influence

    many local, regional, and national lobbying organizations are spawns of the political process and are sustained by a symbiotic relationship with the political process

    they represent segments of the communities they claim to represent

    for the most part they are corporate entities not bottoms up associations

    in that sense they are like political parties

  18. Factor in this with their reactionary stance on climate change and it appears they’ve been jacked by by the hard right.

  19. Instead of “chamber of commerce” they should be called “small-businesses who want to destroy themselves by supporting their big business competitors”

  20. The Center For Economic & Policy Research (CEPR) http://www.cepr.net {gag} really needs to change its name and stop sucking credibility from the Center For Economic Policy Research (CEPR), http://www.cepr.org, which itself shouldn’t have any credibility.

    Would anyone like to form a think tank dedicated to debunking think tanks, tainted news, and academics for hire? Since these things seem to be so influential, maybe it could be funded directly from the public, with complete transparency. We could even have web-cams installed in the office to supply running proof that we’re on the up and up. No lunches or dinners or retreats with anyone who might influence our research? We could do it on the cheap, say just 1 or two researchers initially, and a pr person.

    Wouldn’t you pay $20-$30/month to an organization you can trust? Even at $10/month, with as few as 100,000 subscribers, this could be a nice, honest, constructive living. Email me at unclebillylovescr@gmail.com if interested. Seriously.

    Thoughts welcome on how to maintain complete transparency and disclosure.

  21. A new joke: What do you call a constitutional law professor that supports torture and the elimination of habeus corpus?
    The president.

  22. Yes and we could call it the Center for the Economics of Policy Research.
    Seriously, it’s a good idea…as long as it doesn’t stay in business after killing all other think tanks and mercenary economists.

  23. Ok, it needs a good name and logo. How bout the Institute for Clear Honest Analysis with No Gobbledeegook or Equivocation (i-CHANGE)?

  24. I’ll do you one better…let’s replace
    everything with a “Chamber of Commerce”
    and save you from having to substantiate
    your attack on what’s shown on that report
    on small business.

  25. Ted, do you remember the article you posted from Bloomberg regarding the head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission complaining that Barney Frank’s bill to regulate derivatives contained an exclusion—a big exclusion??

    Gary Gensler, that head of the CFTC, spent 9 years at Goldman Sachs before serving as Under and Assistant Sec’y of the Treasury under Clinton from 1997-2001. According to Wiki, “Gensler advocated the passage of the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000, which exempted credit default swaps and other derivatives from regulation.”

    According to his recent testimony before Congress, Gensler admitted being against regulating derivatives in the past. Recently he opposed requiring derivatives to be traded on exchanges “because requiring derivatives to be traded on exchanges could dry up trading in that market, which opponents of the idea say would hurt farmers, ranchers, and energy users that rely on liquidity in the derivative market to hedge their investment risks.” (He didn’t mention hurting his old buddies at Goldman who also hedge risk with derivatives. No surprise.)

    http://www.marketwatch.com/story/lawmakers-clash-on-derivatives-regulation

    Huffington Post reported that while Gensler was at Treasury, “in the 1990s, the CFTC began allowing many privately negotiated derivatives, or so-called over-the-counter contracts, to escape regulation. “One person who might have deserved Born’s scrutiny is Gary Gensler, a former partner at Goldman Sachs, assistant Treasury secretary under President Clinton and the current chairman of the CFTC. Gensler, who once opposed derivatives regulation, beat back CFTC oversight when he helped shape the Clinton administration’s response to Born’s proposal. But now, in the wake of the financial meltdown, Gensler has changed his tune on derivatives regulation. The SEC and CFTC “should have clear, unimpeded oversight and enforcement authority to prevent and punish fraud, manipulation and other market abuses,” Gensler told the Senate Banking securities subcommittee this week.” Epiphany?? Saul on the road to Damascus??? Or another fox in the henhouse??
    Huffington goes on to indict the usual list of suspects—Gramm, his wife Wendy, Lugar (Republicans) and even Greenspan.

    Oh what a terrible web [the Repubicans and Democrats] weave. (Sir Walter Scott)

    Read more: http://huffpostfund.org/stories/2009/06/toothless-regulator-looks-take-bite-out-derivatives#ixzz0UUjjGyRL
    Under Creative Commons License: Attribution No Derivatives

    Read more: http://huffpostfund.org/stories/2009/06/toothless-regulator-looks-take-bite-out-derivatives#ixzz0UUjAqlOf
    Under Creative Commons License: Attribution No Derivatives

  26. Que se vayan todos. Ahora!

  27. American auto companies are being bankrupted by the high cost of health care, but they won’t fight for health care reform.

    They were nearly bankrupted by speculation that drove the price of gas to $4.00 a gallon, but did not ask the government to stop the speculators, either.

    The long lead time and vast amounts of capital required to introduce new models — whether gas guzzlers or fuel efficient small cars — mean the industry will always be at the mercy of speculators who can push gas prices up and down very rapidly.

    The Chamber policies hurt not only small businesses, but very large as well, and yet many corporations seem ideoligically blinded to regulation that is in their own self-interest.

  28. How about the New Organization Supporting Honest Independent Transparency?

  29. Oh you mean that no other generation has left the next one a mess to clear up? Way, way too simple. From someone born in 1944.

  30. “was passed with bipartisan support (38 of 45 Democratic Senators voted FOR Gramm-Leach, including Dodd, Schumer, Kennedy, Kerry and Reid.)”

    Not sure which vote you mean. Wiki (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gramm-Leach-Bliley_Act) showes different figures, like the Senate vote, all Dem’s except one voted against the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (all Republican).

  31. Big Has Benefits; Just Ask Canadian Bankers

    1. Market Concentration

    “Canada has a highly concentrated banking market; for example, the largest six banks account for more than 90 per cent of the assets in the banking system. Formal measures of concentration in banking (such as the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index) are typically in a range that points to what economists would interpret as a medium or high degree of market concentration.” (Bank of Canada Review, Summer 2007)

    2.More Stable Retail Depository Base

    A relatively high share of bank’s funding is depository – transaction, retail, rather than wholesale funding. Wholesale funding is more unstable – subject to rollover risks in uncertain market conditions. Small retail deposits are more sticky than large deposits. “Anecdotal evidence suggests that a higher fraction (than in the U.S.) of Canadian deposits are….transaction accounts and small deposits,…..One likely reason for Canadian banks’ firm grip of deposit supply is their ability to provide one-stop service in mutual funds and asset management. Unlike in the U.S.Canadian banks have been historically universal banks, and there is relatively less competition for household savings from other alternative investment vehicles.”(IMF WP/09/152)

    3.Fewer Mortgage Choices, Higher Mortgage Interest Rates

    “…the Canadian mortgage market is relatively conservative….Mortgages with a loan-to-value ratio of more than 80 percent need to be insured for the whole amount (rather than the portion above 80 percent as in the United States). Mortgages with a loan-to-value ratio of more than 95 percent cannot be
    underwritten by federally-regulated depository institutions. To qualify for mortgage
    insurance, mortgage debt service-to-income ratio should usually not exceed 32 percent
    and total debt service 40 percent of gross household income. Few fixed-rate mortgages
    have a contract term longer than five years.”(IMF WP/09/152)

    4.Relatively High Profitability and Low Risk

    “Domestically, Canadian banks average return on equity over the last 5 years has
    been 14.2%. This represents the third largest ROE across all sectors of the
    Canadian economy. However, Canadian banks are significantly less risky than most
    other sub-sectors of the Toronto Stock Exchange. Given their lower risk we would
    have expected the Banks to earn lower returns than other industry sectors.
    (Bain &Company Report, December 2003)

    http://www.fin.gc.ca/consultresp/mergersRespns_7-eng.asphttp://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/wp/2009/wp09152.pdf

  32. Diana Farrell and her colleagues at the WH economic team (last week’s posting) and this Chamber of Commerce man Hirschmann better seriously read today’s speech of Mervyn King (governor of the Bank of England)

    “The “too important to fail” problem is too important to ignore.”

    “To paraphrase a great wartime leader, never in the field of financial endeavour has so much money been owed by so few to so many. And, one might add, so far with little real reform.”

    “In other industries we separate those functions that are utility in nature – and are regulated – from those that can safely be left to the discipline of the market.”

    “At one end of the spectrum is the proposal for “narrow banks”, which would separate totally the provision of payments services from the creation of risky assets. At the other is the proposal to separate proprietary trading from retail banking.
    There are those who claim that such proposals are impractical. It is hard to see why.
    What does seem impractical, however, are the current arrangements. Anyone who proposed giving government guarantees to retail depositors and other creditors, and then suggested that such funding could be used to finance highly risky and speculative activities, would be thought rather unworldly. But that is where we now are.”

    “It is important that banks in receipt of public support are not encouraged to try to earn their way out of that support by resuming the very activities that got them into trouble in the first place.”
    [I read this as criticism of Geithner's approach]

    “The sheer creative imagination of the financial sector to think up new ways of taking risk will in the end, I believe, force us to confront the “too important to fail” question. The belief that appropriate regulation can ensure that speculative activities do not result in failures is a DELUSION!!”

    Ms Farrell (WH econ. team) and Mr Hirschmann (Chamber of Commerce) seem deluded indeed. They need to read:

    Mervyn King’s (BOE) speech

    http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/publications/speeches/2009/speech406.pdf

  33. Uncle Billy,
    One of my favorite historians is/was Will Durant. I recently learned that in his youth in academia he was an “anarchist.” I always associated the term “anarchist” with Sacco and Vanzetti and Princip. I didn’t realize anarchism was such a broadly defined philoposhy with adherents on the left and the right. Your “Que se vayan todos. Ahora” philosophy is less threatening if I translate it as “throw the bums/rotters out.” The problem is that, in this country, it is nearly impossible to unseat an incumbent.

  34. What do you call a blogger? A loser who loves his own voice.

  35. Blog Commentor

    What do you call a guy who posts comments on a blog?

  36. The Chamber hasn’t advocated the interests of small business for years, despite the TV advertising campaign that champions free enterprise. These folks are aligned with the same interests that own much of Congress and who fight tooth and nail any hint at reform that might benefit Main Street. Too many of them have spent too much time inhaling the rarified air on corporate jets. Bring on the anti-aircraft guns!

  37. RE: “an organization representing 3 million small businesses”

    Here’s more on the 300,000 membership: http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2009/10/us-chamber-caves-membership-numbers

  38. Perhaps one of the best examples of small business coming together for the purpose of influencing their government come in… ahem… France. There, small businesses have formed their own political party and own a significant number of seats in Parliament. This may be the reason big business is not apt to set up shop in France, and why our country has such a disdain for anything French. However, if you own a small business, and see the welfare that is enjoyed by Big Banks, Big Box Industries, you have to wonder what the alternatives are for small mom & pops. It’s pretty bleak. It’s one of the two political parties or the chamber, and that’s about it. There’s just not much choice for small businesses, and they do not have the resources to bank roll lobbyists like the fat cats do.

  39. Pat makes a great point.

  40. you hit the nail on the head, Philip H. !!!!

    The U.S. Chamber of Commerce does NOT represent small business.

  41. The last time I remember a national business organization of small and medium-sized businesses fighting the big boys was in 1994. Then the NAM opposed NAFTA and I heard their spokesmen on the radio explaining that many mid-cap manufacturers would be ruined by NAFTA. Does anyone remember a similar action by a national business organization since 1994?

  42. Who’s more the fool, the fool or the fool that follows him?

  43. Cheers Andy Hailey, good catch! I listened to the radio piece earlier today and was puzzled by Hirschmann’s blathering… no doubt the vast majority of business people (those in SME’s) are on the side of Simon & Barry regarding TBTF, regulatory capture and the deep rot in both political parties.

    Oracle, I think regardless of organized action the situation of SME’s is going to come to the fore during the next couple of years if we seem to enter a Japanese/New Normal/jobless recovery environment.

  44. jake chase, “To understand is to perceive patterns”, Plato. I think your are almost there, speaking from your quote: “the Ponzi scheme known as fractional reserve banking.” I may be wrong but I,m inclined to believe that you are actually able to see the root cause of our monetary problem.
    Now to really get some action out of this “Where do we find the “Honest Abe” to by pass the Federal Reserve and bring back the “Greenback”? I can vote for this instead of listening to all that circular logic being spun on blobs/gobs such as this. I was thinking or Ron Paul! Maybe!

  45. Hey, Jessica, I loved his aquiline features. What a penetrating gaze he had and it was matched with his razor sharp intellect. How about Robert M. Pirsig?

  46. We could even have web-cams installed in the office

    great idea and to hell with human rights for the employed – we are the good ones so with us it isn’t surveillance it is whatever we call it

    will one get reprimanded for picking one’s nose during office hours or for wiggling too much on one’s chair or for going to the ladies’ room once too often for staring or heaven forbid for sneaking a cigarette. Will you regulate amount of caffeine allowed?

  47. to close the proverbial barn door AFTER the horse is out

    and as Eliot Spitzer convinced me in Slate new regulation exculpate the wrongdoers who after all did “it” only under the old regulation
    … because had they had such good regulation in place they would have acted like the most regular guy … after all they never looked for loop holes, no not them, those loop holes were forced on them by something high and mighty and irresistable

  48. Interesting to see the support building against TBTF banks….Bank of England Governor King, Greenspan and Volcker. I imagine once the economy stabilizes the federal government will revisit breaking up banks that are TBTF. My guess is Pres. Obama would tackle that issue in his 2nd term if re-elected.

  49. I don’t see it in those terms, but it is an interesting question. The cameras would of course be disclosed upfront. Not sure I made that clear. Anyone who doesn’t want to work under those conditions is free to not take the job. Not sure, also, what would happen during personal moments at work. If someone were to receive a personal call and want to get off camera for a few minutes, would the organization lose all credibility because the public questions the nature of that call?

    I don’t know how pervasive cams and recording is in the states in office environments. The whole office-cam-broadcast-to-the-internet phenom seems to have died off, but on the other hand retail store owners, equipped with inexpensive surveillance, are now able to watch their employees 24/7 from anywhere in the world. Cameras are always running, focused on tills, in many businesses, so it looks like we have been living with the general concept fairly well, for a while now. From what I’ve seen, though, it’s just video, no audio, which is what such a venture would require.

  50. Jessica,

    I always felt guilty about Will Durant. I got The Story of Civilization free for signing up with Book of the Month Club, but then cancelled the membership. The things that stuck with me all these years was a) how much he liked and cared about people b) how he and Ariel seemed to be one person:

    “The Durants also shared a love story as remarkable as their scholarship; they detail this in Dual Autobiography. After Will went into the hospital, Ariel stopped eating. Will died after he heard that Ariel had died. They died within two weeks of each other in 1981 (she on October 25 and he on November 7). Though their daughter, Ethel, and grandchildren strove to keep the death of his Ariel from the ailing Will, he learned of it on the evening news, and he himself died at the age of 96. He was buried beside his wife in Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Will_Durant

    “Throw the bums out” expresses the sentiment well, except that the bums are people too, so I’d translate it more “throw them all out.” Perhaps James and other legal scholars can guide us on how to do this. The constitution seems to require a little makeover.

  51. “I imagine once the economy stabilizes the federal government will revisit breaking up banks that are TBTF. ”

    ??????
    This seems backwards to me. It is the other way ’round, and WITHOUT the speculative IB side of Wall Street.

    We need — among many others — stable, utility (retail: deposit saving and prudent loaning) banks to get a sustainable economy.

    Simon Johnson and others have argumented that there was a small window of opportunity for change: jan – april ’09. The window has closed.

    “My guess is Pres. Obama would tackle that issue in his 2nd term if re-elected.”

    ????????
    Wait a minute: here we have a President, with his party a majority in congress (till the mid-term election next year), who has campaigned on a platform of change. Remember the joyful parties of people celebrating after election night: it really felt like impeachment by the people of the former administration. And now, clearly, we have ZERO CHANGE vis-a-vis Wall Street banksters!
    If you guess Obama will be re-elected, to make good on his promise of the last election, then my guess is, your guess is wrong. Obama is heading for a 1 term presidency, like Bush Sr.

  52. an office is an environment where there is somebody to reprimand you, so is a shop, if others tolerate it, it is up to them; I’ll keep yelling against it – if our shops also surveille by now that may be an explanation why so many of those employed there feel more and more like robots

    – our labour representatives are fighting hard and still successfully to limit surveillance by employers – whenever something like recently with our discounter Lidl gets media attention, the public outcry is huge, sales suffer, they have to make amends and they have to be much more careful next time around not to stretch the boundaries of the permitted (Lidl had the tough luck and “we” had the good luck that one or several of the cameras installed gave a bit of a view of customers punching in their PINs – Lidl ran for weeks and weeks after that all kinds of charity actions and promised to be good without end i.e. as the public cares it is worthwhile for the media to go after them)

    – but I get told that as far as surveillance is concerned we take it more seriously than other countries and I am all for taking it as seriously as possible (on the other hand we supervise eachother closely on whether we separate our garbage correctly and would probably love to have cameras there so the evildoers could be identified ;-)

  53. Once again – follow the money trail. I don’t know this for a fact but if you look at the Chamber’s membership and financial supporters, I would wager that you will find big banks a significant factor. Enough said – move on.

  54. Small business needs a dedicated lobbying group that is focused on entrepreneurial needs. The Chamber of Commerce clearly doesn’t represent us, and the NFIB is historically just an arm of the GOP. The Chamber has demonstrated repeatedly that it represents only the largest companies, but does so on the reputation of small businesses and the employment they create.

  55. It’s been said already, but I will reiterate and enhance. Local Chambers represent their local member small businesses (from who they gain their funding, and they lobby the state and local governments for small business. Because these Chambers are local (although a part of the national chamber), they don’t even care about the big business interests, except to protect their members from unfair competition. The national Chamber represents large business. Don’t let the size of their membership fool you, their primary support comes from VERY LARGE BUSINESSES, like the big banks.

    They have been bought, and now are members of the plutocracy’s lobby. So, they can’t lobby for the national small business owners, because it would be an attack on the folks who pay the bills. They really are a wing of the Republican Party, and the locals are conservative, but not necessarily Republican.

  56. If the big banks are broken up, is that a guarantee that the remaining financial institutions, which are interconnected in myriads of ways, will not collectively become too-big-to-fail? Is there some serious block to them becoming infected – collectively – with dangerous derivatives? I think not. Rather, I think that may become a wave of the future.

  57. Adding to my previous post: If derivatives are outlawed, and after the breakup of the big banks we are thus left with a plain vanilla system spread through many smaller-cap institutions, would that work?? That’s a question to consider, I think.

  58. Good graphic description of my idea.
    RS

  59. keep in mind that wherever one head was cut off two grew and that it took two working together to make it possible at all

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lernaean_Hydra

    (great pictures posted there also)
    worrying detail which I had forgotten or never knew:
    the last, the immortal head was buried under a stone – is it still there?

  60. Poor, poor Chamber of Commerce. They are sending out e-mails claiming to be under attack by evil liberal groups simply because they are standing up for American businesses.

  61. One word answer, MONEY