How Much “Change”?

Bloomberg has a nice report on what an Obama administration’s financial and economic policy will look like, noting that Robert Rubin, Larry Summers, and Paul Volcker aren’t necessarily the poster boys for “change.”

“This is a group of people that understands the markets, respects the free-market system and understands government has an important role to play,” says Eugene Ludwig, a former U.S. comptroller of the currency who is himself an Obama adviser. “But there are limits on what government can or should do”…

Rubin, one of Obama’s closest economic advisers, was a proponent of deregulation as President Bill Clinton’s Treasury secretary from 1995 to `99. Summers, a Harvard economist who worked under Rubin in the Treasury before replacing him as secretary, joined his boss in defeating an effort to rein in over-the-counter derivatives in 1998.

The Berg notes that the newly expanded Democratic majorities in Congress may want to drag Obama to the left more than he wants, and some of his constituents are already skeptical:

Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy group in Washington, says Wall Street has gained a disproportionate influence over the new administration’s regulatory agenda because its employees contributed so much to the Obama campaign — a record $12.7 million compared with $8 million for McCain, according to the Center for Responsive Politics in Washington…

Goldman Sachs employees gave $874,207 to him, the second-highest amount for any organization, behind the University of California.

The story makes an interesting point in reporting that Citigroup, where Rubin was “consigliere”, wouldn’t have been able to create the CDOs that blew a hole in its side without the Rubin and Summers approved Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which repealed the Depression-era Glass-Steagall Act, letting banks and investment banks merge.

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Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum.