Did you know that even after the 2008 financial crisis, it has been legal for financial advisers to steer clients toward investments that produce the biggest commissions for them and not ones that are in the client's best interest?
That's right. Fraud has been legal all this time. It's bad enough for people of any age – few of us understand the complexities of Wall Street investing – but it is particularly hard on retired people.
So, last year, President Barack Obama's administration passed new regulations raising ethical standards that govern the industry. The one in question today is called the fiduciary rule and it
“...requires brokers to act in a client’s best interest,” reports The New York Times, rather than seek the highest profits for themselves, when providing retirement advice.”
The fiduciary rule was set to go into effect on 10 April 2017. But then, last Friday, President Donald Trump signed a memorandum asking the Labor Department to review the rule which critics say, according to the Washington Post, could limit options for investors and raise costs for financial firms. The White House addressed that issue, as quoted in the Post:
“'The rule’s intent may be to have provided retirees and others with better financial advice, but in reality its effect has been to limit the financial services that are available to them,' White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Friday.
“'This is exactly the kind of government regulatory overreach the president was put in office to stop,” [Spicer continued.]
Yeah, right. With several Goldman Sachs appointees in the Trump administration, when it becomes a choice between safeguarding elders from predatory advisers and enriching Wall Street, it is easy to figure out which way it will go.
As John Cassidy noted in The New Yorker,
”...five financial stocks account for more than forty per cent of the rise in the Dow Jones Industrial Average since November 8th. The jump in Goldman’s stock alone accounts for a quarter of the over-all rise.
“On Friday morning, bank stocks rose again. At noon [after Trump signed the fiduciary rule memorandum], Goldman was up four per cent.”
As bad as this may become for retirees, there is much more to be frightened of coming from the Trump administration in regard to financial (de)regulation and I strongly suggest you go read Cassidy's New Yorker piece about that.
It is exhausting trying to keep up with all the ways, every day, the Republican Congress and the president are working to turn our republic into something unrecognizable.
Many serious television commentators and pundits along with their counterparts in print have warned about not succumbing to Trump fatigue, that we can't count on Congress, certainly not the Democrats and maybe not even the courts to keep American democracy safe.
It is up to us, the people, to keep the Constitution and the country intact.
Now, go call your representatives' offices (you have those numbers saved by now, don't you) and let them know where you stand on whatever the Trump firehose has sprayed our way this morning.
Okay, maybe not exactly a resistance note but close enough.
Tuesday night John Oliver, who is host of the HBO show, Last Week Tonight, appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to promote the return of his program which begins a new season on Sunday.
During the interview, Oliver tells Colbert that although he is a green card holder and his wife and son are American citizens, he worries a little bit about being deported depending on the whims (my word, not Oliver's) of our new president. "A green card may not be enough," he says and although deportation is unlikely in his case, there is now, with the election of Trump, "a non-zero chance of it happening."
He and Colbert also mention his cover story interview in the latest issue of Rolling Stone magazine that you can read here.
It's wonderful to have John Oliver in back in such fine form.