FinancialStability.gov - From Translucent to Transparent
And so it is with the U.S. government. Especially anything related to the banking industry over the past 6-9 months. Here's a short list:
- Bernie Madoff. Holy Frosted Glass Batman! Did anyone see this coming? The SEC? Anyone?
- Fannie Mae. Freddie Mac. Citigroup. Washington Mutual.
- TARP Part 1 of 2. Someone, possibly a group, knows exactly where the money went, down to the $10,000.
"For the past 8 years though, I would say it was expected that something 'dirty' was going on behind the frosted glass."
I guess any time your reaction becomes "What is going on here?" - a natural reaction; in fact, the reason for asking is to remove some of the proverbial frosting from the glass. I think the U.S. government has acquired and retained this aura for as long as I can remember, and most likely well before my time. No doubt secrecy is needed in government, however I think the desire for more accountability, auditing ability, insight, and transparency from U.S. consumers and citizens is really a shift toward a more global attitude in general.
That sense of constraint, physical constraint, that literally you are limited in how far you can travel - it no longer exists. People communicate with ease across the globe, businesses find customers everywhere, and in many cases people may feel as though they belong not to a very specific geographic location, but rather the Earth in general. Think of it as a movement away from global competition, instead headed toward global contribution. A feeling of openness and trust in others, as opposed to secrecy.
I get a sense this mentality is embraced by the new Administration. For the past 8 years, though, I would say it was expected that something "dirty" was going on behind the frosted glass. However transparency, as I've heard many politicians utter recently, is now en vogue along with an increased sense of scrutiny and efficiency.
FinancialStability.gov is the first major move forward in opening the transparency between the U.S. government's actions and its citizens. Financial institutions receiving government funds will have to provide reports on new lending activities - which will be available for public review on FinancialStability.gov. And again, this is just a first move. I'm sure the website will offer a host of other features giving citizens unprecedented insight into what is going on within the confines of government. It might be a slow start, at first just presenting lists of what has already happened, but this is more efficient access than we've ever had in the past.
So while the launch of this new website, FinancialStability.gov, might be a side-item in the current stimulus package, it will be the first on a long list of initiatives to remove the mystery behind how decisions are made within the U.S. finance industry and government as a whole.