Henry Paulson's speech this week in which the Treasury secretary called for revamping the regulatory framework of the financial industry was "spot on," according to this columnist. But Paulson, who "comes across as straightforward, candid, without guile," may be swimming against the tide for while "it is possible that financial services are moving offshore because of the greater hassles of U.S. regulation ... it is equally plausible that what we're seeing is the inevitable end to near-monopoly that has allowed U.S. financial firms to charge outrageous fees and earn outsized salaries and bonuses."
When the Democratic-controlled Congress begins next year, Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., will take up the leadership of the Senate Banking Committee, and, more important, will map out his agenda as the chair and as a possible candidate for the presidency. Dodd has said he plans to be independent, but he hopes to be viewed as open to both consumers and corporate America.
Federal prosecutors have dropped charges against the five remaining defendants in the floor-trading scandal at the New York Stock Exchange. The surprise move comes despite prosecutors' having won three convictions and obtained two guilty pleas in the case.
According to the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, for the first nine months of 2006, U.S. bond issuance increased to $4.19 trillion, but net issuance of U.S. Treasury bills dipped. The association points to a reduced budget deficit as cause for the decline.
HCA Inc.'s $5.7 billion sale of junk bonds has proved a windfall for investors. Gains on the bonds have put $228 million in profit in the hands of investors just this month, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.