Two issues emanating from Washington, D.C. are troubling.
First, is a letter from three Democratic senators and one Demo representative calling on the Federal Trade Commission to save us from outlet malls. They are claiming outlet stores are pulling the wool over the consumers eyes by making them think they are getting top-quality merchandise marked down and sent there from original retail stores.
“We are concerned that outlet store consumers are being misled into believing they are purchasing products originally intended for sale at the regular retail store … We believe this practice may be a violation of the FTC’s Guides Against Deceptive Pricing,” they wrote.
Oh, please. How many people really think they are getting a good deal at an outlet stores mall? If people buy the merchandise and they are happy with the purchase, what’s the big deal? The advantage of outlet malls is the variety of name-brand retail establishments in one location. Most people figure they are not getting top-of-the-line goods, but if they are happy with their purchase, that’s good enough.
So, what’s with Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Rep. Anna Eshoo, D- Atherton? Are they the only suckers in Congress who thought outlet malls were high-end retail?
Sen. Whitehouse even promised legislation. This is what’s wrong with America. Government trying to run everything, regulate everything. We buy these people pens and pencils, pay them a salary, give them free postage and this is what they do to us — start messing with our outlet malls.
The second issue is the near nationalization of the banks. J.P Morgan, which has paid $13 billion for the crime of buying Bear Stearns to save the Federal Reserve the embarrassment of another Wall Street bankruptcy like Lehman Bros. J.P. Morgan also bought the failing Washington Mutual Bank. Now it has been fined for the type of mortgages sold by Washington Mutual and the types of bonds sold by Bear Stearns. Oh, and pay out another $2 billion for not noticing that your banking customer Bernie Madoff was running a Ponzi scheme, something the Securities and Exchange Commission missed in spite of sending out inspectors six times.
That’s not all. J.P. Morgan, which lost $6 billion because of series of bad trades made by someone called the “London Whale” (Bruno Iksil), Morgan was fined $920 million for losing money.
And the fun doesn’t stop there. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency has bank examiners assigned to work inside large banks. When the London Whale fiasco came to light there were so many bank examiners at J.P. Morgan that they had to put all the bank examiners in an auditorium, so many wanted to do interviews. Bank examiners aren’t just looking at the books, but they are peering into the computer system and sitting in on internal strategy meetings with executives and board members. The bank examiners didn’t catch the London Whale. The SEC didn’t catch Bernie Madoff.
Bank examiners are generally speaking a valuable check on banking. But stationing 40-60 permanently in a bank’s offices and extracting multi-billion dollar fines looks more like nationalization of banks.