Breakout

Are We Regulating Ourselves Back Into Recession?

Breakout

"Let us put an end to self-inflicted wounds," President Gerald Ford told Congress in 1975. "And let us remember that our national unity is a most priceless asset." While Ford was talking about the scars from the Vietnam War, his words seem relevant today. Our nation grapples with not one divisive issue, but a basket of them, each pulling and undermining our already battered confidence, while testing our resolve and straining the limits of logic.

What are we doing to ourselves, America?

In just two short weeks, instead of closing the books after a bruising election, we've not only kept the rancor alive but have doubled down on it. In this morning's papers alone, I easily counted a dozen different areas of discourse before growing tired of it all. As my colleague Mike Santoli and I discuss in the attached video, with so much going on — and with so much wrong — is it any wonder stocks are moving in reverse at a fast clip since the second quarter correction.

"It feels like a particularly heavy round of one of these anti-business — or at least calling business to task — moments," Santoli says in the face of my long and growing list of negatives, which include higher taxes, the fiscal cliff, the Benghazi aftermath, turnover at the CIA, federal probes of FedEx and UPS over mail-order medicine, BP's record fine, further investigation into banks for money laundering, as well as another round of mandatory stress testing.

Before you go off and call me some kind of zero-regulation advocate or pessimist, all I am saying is that it strikes me as slightly counterproductive to be building up and and tearing down the banks at the same time. And Santoli seems to agree, saying that it is alarming to see how much banks have to spend on compliance, legal and regulatory issues, calling it a "massive weight."
As much as we had recently been gaining some degree of comfort over the economy, housing and jobs, it suddenly seems as if we're doing everything wrong.

''Is it ever going to be a good time to cinch up tax rates?" Santoli questions. Obviously the answer is no, and yet the markets cling to the belief that our elected officials will break ranks and reach some sort of last-minute grand bargain solution.

Maybe I am just being cynical, but I am of the mind that no major changes will emerge without first going through a period of calamity. Santoli is a smidge more optimistic, however, clinging to a ''residual hope'' that the President has a ''Nixon-to-China moment" and that his second term is not about fighting individual, ideological fight. "That is the distant hope you have to hold," he says.
How about you? Have you given up hope in the face of so much negativity?

Rates

View Comments (1592)