There’s been more than a little tongue-in-cheek conjecture that if the “boys” had listened to the “girls” or if “girls” had been in charge, our financial structures wouldn’t be in meltdown mode today and our economy wouldn’t be in the tank. So you’d think that a little more attention might be paid to the wise words of Elizabeth Warren, the common-sense Harvard professor who was put in charge of the TARP oversight panel.
When she talks, everyone should listen. I’ve become such a fan, that I think I have something of a girl crush on her!
Warren makes sense when talking about these topics that so many of the guys on Wall Street, as well as former regulators, want us to think are oh-so complicated. You can actually understand the words that come out of her mouth when she speaks about the economy. There’s no Alan Greenspan-like econo-mumbo jumbo - just easy to understand words of wisdom about transparency and wanting the government and the investment banks to explain where the billinons we gave to bail them out went and when we’re going to get paid back.
Interestingly, she is not beloved by those people. It’s her jobs to ask questions and get answers about how things are going, what’s happening to the money and when we can stop the financial hand-holding of these supposed finance wizards (and don’t even get me started on the fact that they’re still getting gi-NOR-mous bonuses). You’d think the Treasury Department would be glad that Warren and others are asking these questions and demanding answers — um, apparently, not so much.
Warren told Rachel Maddow recently, that, in addition to overseeing where all the TARP money is going, what the country really needs is a Consumer Financial Protection Agency. Why? Because, in Warren’s lovely plain English, the government should be looking out for regular people and making it easy for us to understand credit terms without “tricks and traps.”
There, that idea wasn’t so hard to put into understandable language now was it?
Elizabeth Warren isn’t the only one on my Washington, D.C. political girl crush list. There’s also Sheila Bair of the FDIC who recently received a Profile in Courage award, but who has been criticized by people like Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner for pressing for more structural changes within the financial community.
I’ve always liked Brooksley Born, formerly of the CFTC, who also received the same award as Bair, who tried unsuccessfully to warn the Clinton administration of the economic perils of credit default swaps.
And, most recently, I have a soft spot for Melissa Hathaway, President Obama’s Cybersecurity advisor who just resigned reportedly because of pushback she was getting from the White House economic team, including Larry Summers.
Someone recently said to me that she has concerns about women trying to effect change through traditional organizational channels because things move so slowly and women don’t always push to speed the process up.
While Elizabeth Warren and others may feel like they are spinning their wheels in the ego-driven world of male politics, I can’t help but admiring them for what they are trying to do and hope that more will follow them so that women’s common sense voices can be heard above the din of the men who have bee rewarded by keeping the status quo too long.