Headlines: Regulating the Banks

Here’s a headline (title) from a political blog on the New York Times website this week:

Battle Over Bailouts Shifts Oversight Debate

The blog post is about one of the most controversial issues currently in U.S. politics: how the federal (national) government should regulate (have rules for) our financial institutions, such as banks, stock market investment firms, and other similar companies.  As many of you may know, during the economic crisis in the United States in 2008-2009, the U.S. government spent billions of dollars to help save banks that had lost a lot of money because of, among (in addition to) other things, the declining price of houses in the U.S.  Now, almost two years later, the federal government is investigating how to prevent another financial disaster involving these banks from happening again.

The headline begins with the phrase battle over, which means a fight or a violent argument over (about) something.  Normally we use the word battle to describe events in a war, but the word can also be used more generally to indicate a large or major disagreement.  This battle or fight is over bailouts To bail out a company means, in this case, to give it money when its business is in serious trouble, when it needs money to continue.  The word can also be a noun to describe the money given to the failing company.  The U.S. government has given bailouts to several banks over the past few years.  Many people were angry that public money was used to help these private banks, and the government’s action is now very unpopular (disliked by many people).

To shift means to focus attention from one thing to another, or to move from one position to another.  Here the fight over whether banks should continue to get bailouts has changed or shifted the focus of people’s attention from the more general discussion of oversight of financial institutions.  Oversight is when a person or group monitors (looks at; follows) and controls what a group of other people or groups are doing.  The person who is overseeing (the verb for oversight) is not actually in charge of or running the other group; he or she is just making sure it does things according to the rules and regulations.  A debate is a discussion by two or more people who have different views about some important topic, usually done in public in front of a group of people watching.  More generally, it can also mean a disagreement about some political issue.

So what does it all mean?  The government was trying to put new regulations in place (in effect) for banks that would give the government oversight over how these banks operated.  But now the focus of the discussion has shifted to talking about whether the banks should receive bailouts, not about how they should be regulated and controlled.  The original focus of the debate was about oversight, and now it is about bailouts.


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20 Responses to Headlines: Regulating the Banks

  1. rodrigo says:

    Well I think its two faces of the same coin, regulation should comprised rules of how conduct business in order to avoid new crisis and strenght the role of the so called watchdogs (regulatory agencies such as Security and Exchange Comission SEC or Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation FDIC), and set provisions about how handle similar crisis in the future if necessary, but the problem is that some groups in the States consider such measures as socialist and contrary to the free market essencials, also the financial groups are against any control over their activity, furthermore there is concern about the role of the Federal Government and its increasing intervention in the economy, in fact there is a new movement is the States named Tea Party which preach against a big Federal Government and of course is opposite to such measures…. the debate is not finished


  2. Karl, Austria says:

    I do not think we should support banks who ignore any risk and rely on the taxpayer to bail them out in case of failure. It is grossly unfair to all other banks who act in a responible and cautious way.

    Karl, Austria

  3. Alvaro Barbosa da Silva says:

    It’s really hard to fully understand these economic and political issues. I mean, it doesn’t matter the language you are using, the topic itself is too way complicated to the ones who are not actually aware of it!

  4. Oleg says:

    Good topic, Jeff.
    Why dont u tell us more stories like that and about what is going on in high tech. and science world


  5. José says:

    I missed the class of macroeconomics. Thus I know nothing about that. However, I’m wondering if I should ask to the government for a bailout for my business.

    I have a sweetshop for twenty years. Nowadays, because decreasing of sales due to the crisis and the public works in the street just in front of my shop, I am suffering serious troubles to pay a supplier $99.57. Besides I can’t buy more candys because I am not sure if I will be able to pay them.

    I want to take advantage of this blog to ask all of you if you think that I should ask to the government for some help for keeping up my business. What do you think about?

  6. Victor says:

    Thank you for the explanation. It was not easy to understand. I got the explanation you wrote in the post immediately but the meaning of the headline I got only after a couple of minutes watching on it)) I think it would took much time without your this post.

  7. Tania says:

    Hi! Wonderful presentation of the “Wizard of Oz” and the nicest songs/English Cafe 239. I liked it so much that I watched the 1939 film version. I must recognize it is my first movie which I watched it only in English.
    Thank you for your advice to try watching this movie. As Dorothy’friends want a brain, a heart and courage I have read and the political interpretation in Wikipedia. I was very surprised reading on Wizard’representation
    and especially on the abbreviation of “Oz” – ounces. Very interesting. “There’s no place like home”.


  8. Tania says:

    Hi! I enjoy to read espionage books or watching movies with heroes from CIA or other intelligence agencies. I have read Tom Clancy’s Op-center.

  9. emiliano says:

    Working in a bank for so many years, it could be a chance for me just to have some opinion about this matter. But I have not
    any as I think now it´s very difficult to have some.
    Everything has changed so much that in fact I can´t understand what is happening with these kind of institutions.
    Some years before all was easy, and I knew what a Bank was for, and what it was its business.
    Along the years I have been doing several different tasks working in the Bank, now I think I don´t understand anything
    about the financial institutions and their ways of making money.

    May be it´s wrong to leave a Bank at its business without any oversight, we have seen what may happen. But sometimes it´s necessary also to help these institutions when they have done something wront as their fall may be very dangerous to all our financial system and many ordinary people can have a lot of damage.

    So where is the limit for financial institutions and what kind of investment may the Banks do?, that´s the point I think.
    If we see what has happened in the N.Y. stock yesterday it could be necessary to have some kind of financial regulations, or
    some rules that could prevent the last crisis and other kind of collateral effects as it was yesterday.

  10. Kaori says:

    We had experienced similar financial problems in Japan. Many financial institutions, especially major banks suffered from their bad loans over ten years. This decade from 1993 to 2002 was called Lost Decade in Japan. The government bailed out them whereas people argued over its legitimacy. As a result, many mergers of banks, insurance companies, and security companies occurred. The argument over bailouts in the U.S., again, makes us wonder if the famous phrase “too big to fail” is admissible or not.

  11. emiliano says:

    Congratulations Jeff E.C. 239 has an old star singer that we have enjoyed very much. When I say “we” I am referring to my new cat “gatufo” (that is its name) and me.
    The cat was sitting on my pc. chair listening very quiet and it looks delighted with Jeff´s voice, I think the cat wants to learn
    English too.

    The Cafe was great and the songs from the “Wizard of Oz” are delightful. Here in Spain my generation knew all of them very well, and sometimes we sung them in the old times.
    I like Judy Garland very much, also the majority of her films. Now reading Wiky I have seen that she was born in Grand Rapids-Minnessota??….Bob Dylan too…..and yesterday Cuca and me were watching “Fargo” and it takes place in Minnesota too. We may
    see the tween citys, the snow and the icing lakes………too much cold but quite a good film that we saw some years ago without
    knowing a thing about Minn., it was great to see your land.

    Jeff I do not agree with you about Bee Gees, to me it is not a torture to listen to them, if fact I like them very very VERY MUCH.
    I think you are not serious about this matter, as ever of course, is there a moment that you are serious??…I don´t think so.
    May be it´s better for you not to be serious about anything, I am too much instead and it´s enough.

    Thank you Jeff, my best teacher-man and regards.

  12. Michel HUREAUX says:

    Hello JEFF,

    This article is very good. Very interesting. It open our reflexion about the differents solutions in other country. I have to think about it. It’s a difficult topic. I like this kind of text.
    Good work thank’s

  13. Tania says:

    Hi! I have heard about PETA on the CNN. But when you explain us and pronounce the new words we understand much better.

  14. Tania says:

    Hi! Thank you for the explanation of the words: DUIs, DWIs and MADD.

  15. Tania says:

    Hi! I know nothing about Tyler Perry or Martha Stewart. It is well to know.

  16. Tania says:

    Hi! When I pronounce “to hang” I think at to kill by suspending from a rope about the neck. And now, a so different meaning for “to hang out”. I have met this phrase but to translate it…
    Anyway I hate this verb.

  17. Tania says:

    Hi! I like the topic “The Big Count” with a lot of novelties , with access at the U.S. Constitution but especially for the map with the divisions of the U.S. and the cardinal points.
    We can understand you better when you try to localize for us a city or an area. Thank you.

  18. Farahnaz says:

    Dear Jeff,
    I’m not an economist (expert), but in my opinion, as you mentioned, at first the government should search/ investigate/ find the main problems (I mean what was caused this disaster) and try to solve the problem then regulate the best instruction especially if it confer (discuss) with economists. I think bailing out without finding the problem isn’t practical.
    Thanks for new words

  19. dongsung says:

    We had gone through an ordeal called the IMF Crises in 1998 in Korea. From the individual to big companies, everyone has suffered from bad economy. IMF gave bailout our government and the government gave bailout to the companies and banks. Afterward, economy went back to the normal and become stronger. Without those bailouts, our country might have more troubles. So, bailout is necessity.

  20. Tania says:

    Hi! A new face of the Leonardo DiCaprio in a new movie “Inception” – a sci-fi thriller. I could see the trailer in your The Wall Street Journal.

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