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The OTHER Reason that the U.S. is Not Regulating Wall Street  George Washington   Zero Hedge

On March 1, 1999, countries accounting for more than 90 per cent of the global financial services market signed onto the World Trade Organization's Financial Services Agreement (FSA). By signing the FSA, they committed to deregulate their financial markets.

For example, by signing the FSA, the U.S. agreed not to break up too big to fails. The U.S. also promised to repeal Glass-Steagall, and did so 8 months after signing the FSA.

Indeed, in signing the FSA and other WTO agreements, the U.S. has legally bound itself as follows:

   * No new regulation: The United States agreed to a "standstill provision" that requires that we not create new regulations (or reverse liberalization) for the list of financial services bound to comply with WTO rules. Given that the United States has made broad WTO financial services commitments - and thus is forbidden by this provision from imposing new regulations in these many areas - this provision seriously limits the policy [options] available to address the current crisis.

    * Removal of regulation: The United States even agreed to try to even eliminate domestic financial service regulatory policies that meet GATS [i.e. General Agreement on Trade in Services] rules, but that may still "adversely affect the ability of financial service suppliers of any other (WTO) Member to operate, compete, or enter" the market.

    * No bans on new financial service "products": The United States is also bound to ensure that foreign financial service suppliers are permitted "to offer in its territory any new financial service," a direct conflict with the various proposals to limit various risky investment instruments, such as certain types of derivatives.

    * Certain forms of regulation banned outright: The United States agreed that it would not set limits on the size, corporate form or other characteristics of foreign firms in the broad array of financial services it signed up to WTO strictures ...

    * Treating foreign and domestic firms alike is not sufficient: The GATS market-access limits on U.S. domestic regulation apply in absolute terms; that is to say, even if a policy applies to domestic and foreign firms alike, if it goes beyond what WTO rules permit, it is forbidden. And, forms of regulation not outright banned by the market-access requirements must not inadvertently "modify the conditions of competition in favor of services or service suppliers" of the United States, even if they apply identically to foreign and domestic firms.

In other words, the problem isn't just that Congress and the White House have sold out to the Wall Street giants.

The problem is also that the U.S. has signed WTO agreements that have given the keys to the too big to fails, and have neutered their regulators.  Even if some politicians tried to stand up to Wall Street - or even if we "throw out all of the bums" currently in political roles - the U.S. would still be locked into the WTO's scheme for helping the financial giants to grow ever bigger and to take ever-bigger and ever-riskier gambles.

....

On the other hand, if the American people stood up for our sovereignty and demanded that the financial giants be reined in, it would be easy to fix the WTO agreements which the U.S. has already signed. Public Citizen notes, "as a legal matter, these problems are easy to remedy ..."

If you want to do something there is nothing like insuring that you are legally required to do it.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Feb 7th, 2010 at 08:41:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You're only tied to international agreements if you want to be. The US could walk away if there was any domestic will to do so

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Feb 7th, 2010 at 08:47:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The top bankers don't want to walk away and the people are too spellbound to demand that we do. If the US pulled out it would be the end of that financial regime, but so would it be were the EU to pull out, or just Germany, France and the U.K., but you have the same problem. So it is down the drain together.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Feb 7th, 2010 at 11:44:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The people don't understand what the problem is. Vague resentment against bankers isn't specific enough, because it has been co-opted into not-so vague resentment against government - government being the only institution that could make a difference, but won't, for political reasons.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Feb 8th, 2010 at 06:28:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
IOW, spellbound.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Feb 8th, 2010 at 10:34:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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