10 Reasons the JOBS Act is Insane
The plot of the movie "WarGames" involves a slacker hacker (played by Matthew Broderick) who starts playing the game “Global Thermonuclear War” with Joshua, a Department of Defense (DoD) supercomputer that has been given partial control by DoD of our nuclear forces. The game prompts Joshua, who has been programmed to win games, to trick DoD into authorizing Joshua to launch an attack on the Soviet Union so that Joshua can win the game. The hacker and the professor that programmed Joshua realize that the only way to prevent Joshua from attacking is to teach “him” that no one can “win” global thermonuclear war. The insanity is that the people who created the game “Global Thermonuclear War” thought it could be won. Joshua races through thousands of scenarios and ends his plan to win the “Global Thermonuclear War” game by attacking the Soviet Union when he realizes that “the only winning move is not to play.”
The JOBS Act is insane on many levels. It creates an extraordinarily criminogenic environment in which securities fraud will become even more out of control. One of the forms of insanity is the belief that one can “win” a regulatory “race to the bottom.” The only winning move is not to play in a regulatory race to the bottom. The primary rationale for the JOBS Act is the claim that we must win a regulatory race to the bottom with the City of London by adopting even weaker protections for investors from securities fraud than does the United Kingdom (UK).
The second form of insanity is that the JOBS Act is being adopted without any consideration of the findings of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC), the national commission to investigate the causes of the current crisis. I am not aware of any proponent or opponent of the JOBS Act (other than me) who has cited the findings of FCIC. Everyone involved has ignored the detailed finding of a huge investigative effort. The FCIC report explained repeatedly how the three “de’s” (deregulation, desupervision, and de facto decriminalization) had produced the criminogenic environment that drove the financial crisis. The FCIC report specifically condemned the “regulatory arbitrage” that the worst actors exploited by choosing to be (not very) regulated by the “winners” of the regulatory race to the bottom. The FCIC report shows repeatedly how damaging the anti-regulatory fervor in general and the race to the bottom in particular proved.
The third form of insanity is that the JOBS Act was framed without any input from anti-fraud experts. Anti-fraud experts uniformly condemned the bill. We have ignored the experts.
The fourth form of insanity is that we have ignored the people who got past crises correct. The people who were the first to identify prior crises, who designed and implemented successful means to limit the crises, who prevented problems through effective supervision from becoming crises, and who held the most elite fraudulent CEOs culpable for their frauds have all been excluded from the drafting of the JOBS Act.
The fifth form of insanity is that the people who got everything wrong by designing the anti-regulatory policies that drove our prior crises have designed the JOBS Act. We are reinforcing failure and turning our back on what we know succeeds.
The sixth form of insanity is a counterfactual. The unique aspect about this crisis is that it is the first one in modern U.S. history in which the CEOs directing the control frauds that caused the crisis have done so with complete impunity from the criminal laws and near impunity from civil suits and enforcement actions. The worst, most destructive fraudulent CEOs have been allowed to become and remain wealthy through their frauds even though several of them caused greater losses than the entire S&L debacle. The worst fraudulent CEOs who led the prior epidemics of accounting control fraud that drove the S&L debacle and the Enron-era crisis were prosecuted. Not a single elite CEO from Wall Street or the largest fraudulent lenders has even been charged with fraud arising from such loans even though they, collectively, made over two million fraudulent loans in 2006. Had the Bush and Obama administrations prosecuted and denounced these elite frauds it would have been politically impossible for an act as criminogenic and cynical as the JOBS Act to be promoted by the Obama administration and adopted by large Congressional minorities. We are seeing with the JOBS Act the sick face of crony capitalism.