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January 11, 2013

Will Jack Lew take on financial reform? Don't hold your breath

The nomination of budget wonk Jack Lew for Treasury Secretary is a sure sign that, in the eyes of the White House, the financial crisis has ended.

That’s kind of sad, actually. And it puts financial reform activists in an odd position: Tim Geithner, their bête noire, their oft-disparaged adversary, won’t be there to kick around any more – and they might have wished that he would be. As pugilistic as Geithner could get with those who criticized his efforts at bailouts and financial reform, at least he was listening. With his departure, financial reform will largely be pushed aside.

It’s clear the White House is moving on, that financial reform is no longer a priority – and yet the financial system is really no more secure than it was when Tim Geithner took over in the dark days of 2009. It’s not flailing and gasping for air, but that doesn’t mean it’s suddenly safe.”

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Lew worked briefly on Wall Street, but he is unlikely to do favors for Wall Street. He’s much more likely to entirely forget about Wall Street. It was clear from today’s press conference that the financial markets are not a priority for Lew or the president.

That already worries some activists. Dennis Kelleher, the CEO of Better Markets, said today about Lew: “The one area of concern is whether or not he is sufficiently committed to quickly and thoroughly implementing financial reform and re-regulating Wall Street … This concern arises from Mr Lew’s past statements suggesting a lack of knowledge about the financial crisis and its causes. He has appeared to minimize the undeniably critical role deregulation played in causing and accelerating the financial and economic crises.””

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Read full article in the Guardian here

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