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Obama’s ‘Goldilocks’ Problem With Financial Reform

At The Wall Street Journal, Gerald Seib lays out President Obama’s biggest problem as he unveils his proposals for regulatory overhaul today — the “Goldilocks” dilemma. The plan is likely to draw fire from both Obama’s right and left, Seib says.

The Federal Reserve will get more powers to oversee big financial institutions, large firms will have to raise more capital and meet higher liquidity standards, hedge funds will face higher scrutiny, and a new agency will be set up to protect consumers and small investors.

As soon as his plan is out, though, the president will have the Goldilocks problem. Some will think his proposals too hot, some too cold. Only some will think them just right.

The controversy going forward is which groups will have the clout to make things go their way. As The New York Times reports today, financial industry representatives and consumer groups have been lobbying hard over the past few weeks for their interests, which already has affected the scope of the proposals.

Although it would strikingly reorganize the regulatory architecture, the president’s plan results from many compromises with industry executives and lawmakers, and is not as bold as some had hoped.

And that’s even before Congress gets its hands on the proposal.

At the end of the Goldilocks story, she gets caught and runs away. It will be worth watching to see if Obama can prevent this story from ending the same way.

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