A layperson would be forgiven for thinking that the 85-page plan to overhaul the nation's financial-regulations system is about appointing the National Brotherhood of Skiers to oversee the Office of Traffic Safety and Orange County Choppers. "Too many acronyms" was Paul Krugman's initial reaction, although he is working his way through it and has grudgingly offered kudos to the administration's plans to regulate the "shadow" banking system and hedge funds, and give a "poke in the eye to right-wingers eager to blame the Community Reinvestment Act." Reuters' Felix Salmon is also dismayed by the "alphabet soup," but he doesn't exactly purée it for the reader:
"In order to get some measure of cohesion over all this, a second brand-new regulatory entity, the Financial Services Oversight Council, or FOSC, which will consist of the leadership of the NBS; the FDIC; the NCUA; the SEC and the CFTC (yes, they are remaining separate too); the FHFA (that, too, gets to remain independent for no obvious reason); the Treasury; the FOMC; and the brand-new Consumer Financial Protection Agency."
Elsewhere, thoughts are slowly forming over the five-point plan.
• The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder is disappointed that the administration chose to work within the existing system instead of bulldozing the whole lot, asking whether the reforms are "more like a Windows Service Pack upgrade than a whole new architecture and interface ... FinReg 1.5 or FinRef 2.0? FinReg Vista? FinReg 7? (You get the idea.)" We do.
• Writing in the FT, George Soros thinks the administration's proposed plan to require loan sponsors to keep at least 5 percent of the credit risk of the securitized instruments "is more symbolic than substantive. I would consider 10 percent as the minimum requirement."
• Business Week is focusing on the controversial decision to start a Consumer Financial Protection Agency.
But a number of financial pundits are still silently processing, which doesn't bode well. If it's hard for these guys to decide which parts of the plan to be outraged about, imagine how difficult it will be for Congress, which is scheduled to hold its first hearings on the proposals tomorrow. Fingers crossed that someone will come up with a decent idiot's guide by then, since "speed is important," as Obama told CNBC last night. By which we think he must have meant: Someone had best get Maxine Waters some Adderall.