It's a truism of Washington that the more your industry is regulated and influenced by the actions of the federal government, the more you're going to want to make your case in the halls of Congress and in the federal agencies that influence your business's fate. So at this important moment, when the federal government is preparing to overhaul the financial services industry, in all it's many parts, and when the largest bank bailout ever conceived is being rolled out, and the public is up in arms, it's worth stepping back and taking a look at how the affected industries will make their case and who they will make it to
First, it's worth keeping in mind that financial services are a diverse lot. The American Bankers Association
represents the mainstream banks while the Credit Union National Association
representes the nations credit unions. There's the Financial Services Forum
that represents the largest financial institutions and others. The Independent Community Bankers of America
have different interests, too. It opposes the merger of multiple banking regulators that's favored by larger banks. Then there are the divergent needs of semi-banks, represented by the Financial Services Roundtable
which includes the likes of General Electric.
Private Equity has the Private Equity Council
and the hedge funds industry as the Managed Funds Association
, headed by Richard Baker, a former Republican Congressman from Louisiana which is most determined to stop a bill that would require them to disclose their holdings.
Not surprisingly, members of comittees that regulate the financial services tend to do quite well in terms of campaign contributions from the industry. Look at Rep. Jim Himes of Connecticut. The Democrat represents a lot of constituents who work in the financial services industry and according to the Center for Responsive Politics collected more from those companies that have received TARP monies than any other member. The center's full listing of members of the committee and what they got from TARP recipients is here
. In the Senate, Chuck Schumer has long been seen as a defender
of the financial services industry, a point articulated at length in this New York Times story in December
. As financial services reform makes its way through Congress keep an eye on Schumer and what happens to proposals that come out of Barney Frank's Financial Service Committee when they hit Chris Dodd's Banking Committee. Today, for instance, the Senate Banking Committee is holding a hearing on proposed credit card regulations. which is a very big deal to bankers and of no real consequence to hedge funds. In the coming days, we'll keep an eye on those fights that have a real impact on policy but that also illustrate larger points about Washington has and hasn't changed under Barack Obama.