I realized I didn’t say anything about the death of the vanilla option from the Consumer Financial Protection Agency proposal. I was going to right something targeted and biting, but it ended up as a much broader column for the Washington Post about the Obama Administration’s commitment to regulatory reform.
Mike Konczal, fortunately, has two good posts on the topic: one a eulogy for plain vanilla, one on the underlying problems that plain vanilla would have helped solve. He also points out at least three ways the federal government can achieve some of the same goals through other means:
- Banning prepayment penalties on mortgages
- (Citing Alyssa Katz): using the government’s historically large and now even bigger influence in the secondary market to encourage plain vanilla mortgages
- (Citing Steve Waldman): a government charge card (think “public option”)
All of those posts are worth reading. If we’re not going to have plain vanilla, we need other new ideas about how to channel innovation into things that provide consumer benefit and put a floor under the quality offered by the private sector. More disclosure won’t work (that already failed).
Update: The Raven compares the Obama administration to the Johnson administration, each with its “devil’s bargain.”
By James Kwak