The Washington Post is good this morning in reporting that the Bush Administration, which is exiting with the house falling down around it, is trying to knock out another couple of columns before it goes. After all we’ve learned in recent months, what we don’t need is more deregulation so industry can do what it wants without oversight.
The new rules would be among the most controversial deregulatory steps of the Bush era and could be difficult for his successor to undo. Some would ease or lift constraints on private industry, including power plants, mines and farms.
Those and other regulations would help clear obstacles to some commercial ocean-fishing activities, ease controls on emissions of pollutants that contribute to global warming, relax drinking-water standards and lift a key restriction on mountaintop coal mining.
As the deadlines near, the administration has begun to issue regulations of great interest to industry, including, in recent days, a rule that allows natural gas pipelines to operate at higher pressures and new Homeland Security rules that shift passenger security screening responsibilities from airlines to the federal government. The OMB also approved a new limit on airborne emissions of lead this month, acting under a court-imposed deadline…
A rule put forward by the National Marine Fisheries Service and now under final review by the OMB would lift a requirement that environmental impact statements be prepared for certain fisheries-management decisions and would give review authority to regional councils dominated by commercial and recreational fishing interests.
Self-regulation has worked out so well on Wall Street, so why not in the environment?
The Journal scoops that Wall Street bosses are looking at ways to cap their own pay because of the nasty political environment they find themselves in. The paper mostly takes the right tone here:
And as Wall Street firms examine their pay and bonuses, distinctions are being made between the highest-ranking executives and lower-level traders and investment bankers who aren’t widely known beyond Wall Street but could get plucked away by rival firms if compensation practices are significantly altered.
As a result, the most likely scenario in the firm-by-firm discussions is a sharp decline in compensation for chief executive officers, but fewer changes in how bonuses are paid to most employees, according to a person familiar with the matter.
But why should anybody get bonuses at all at companies that are losing billions of dollars, not to mention taking government funds?
In another compensation story, the WSJ looks into the big pension plans on Wall Street that are still owed to execs by companies and were already being effectively being subsidized by taxpayers because they’re tax-deferred. The Journal says the big boys owe their executives more than $40 billion for deferred compensation and pensions.
Problem is, most of these companies haven’t set aside assets to pay for these obligations, meaning they’re getting subsidized by taxpayers again through the multiple ongoing bailouts.
Floyd Norris over at the NYT digs into the negative GDP number yesterday to report how bad things really are.
This recession, in other words, is already deeper than the 2001 downturn. And there are clear signs it is, or soon will be, worse than the 1990-91 recession as well.
If only consumer purchases were counted in G.D.P., it would have fallen at a 3.1 percent annual rate in the quarter. That is the worst quarterly performance in that regard since the second quarter of 1980.
The Times continues its good reporting on AIG. Now the government is adding another $21 billion in loans to the heap. This is great context:
A.I.G.’s big borrowings underscore the company’s bewilderingly rapid decline. When it suddenly faced a cash crisis in mid-September, the original estimate of the amount it needed was just $20 billion. A few days later, the Fed stepped forward with its $85 billion credit line. And now, the stunning size of that original bailout has grown by almost 70 percent.