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How much regulation is too much regulation?

Goldman Sachs’ recent trouble with the SEC has excited a great deal of emotion and sharpened the knives in the ongoing debate regarding government regulation. Did the SEC fail in its duty with regards to Lehman Brothers and enable the near-meltdown in the financial markets? Is the pursuit of Goldman a precursor to a much more “active” SEC regime? Is the SEC poorly run or does it not have enough power? Do we want the SEC – and other government agencies – to have more power?

Perhaps we need to ask Rahm Emmanuel what he thinks, because the short-term outcome will really come down to politics, and that’s what he’s good at. We trust, of course, that the Chicago roots in the White House will soften the blows to us in Chicagoland of any potential knee-jerk reactions aimed at scoring political points, as SEC chief Mary Schapiro continues to aggressively promise tighter oversight, especially of big banks. Or maybe that’s just wishful thinking.

Longer term, the battle is epically important. Armies of lawyers and lobbyists will be employed to protect the various bastions of status quo, but the ultimate check on government – the American people – need to step up and have the final say. What they – what we – decide will change the landscape of American business for a very long time.



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