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The Biz Roundup April 17

You see, the trick is in telling the difference.

In discussing the delicate line that regulators must walk, he said: “The challenge faced by regulators is to strike the right balance: to strive for the highest standards of consumer protection without eliminating the beneficial effects of responsible innovation on consumer choice and access to credit.”. . .

“In those cases, direct regulation, including the prohibition of certain practices, may be the only way to provide appropriate protections,” the Fed chief said.

He cited credit cards charging a variety of interest rates that deliberately prolonged the period that customers were paying at the highest level, as well as subprime mortgage practices that willfully understated the costs of ownership.

“Regulation should not prevent innovation, rather it should ensure that innovations are sufficiently transparent and understandable to allow consumer choice to drive good market outcomes,” he said.

(“Bernanke: Use rules to banish over-complex credit,” Reuters, April 17) The problem with all regulation is that we can all agree on the egregious cases that need to be regulated and we can all agree on the perfectly legitimate cases that shouldn’t. It’s the 80% in between that’s tough. We can start by agreeing on all the egregious stuff first and not just prevent it in the future, but revise overly complex or confusing credit terms that have already been agreed to.

Of course, in any recession, there’s always money to be made in saying really stupid things in front of millions of peopl.

But one media niche — financial news nets — has thrived in the depressed landscape, as people on Wall Street and on Main Street alike try to make sense of the money malaise. While recessions typically dampen ratings of business channels, it’s the reverse for these players.

(“Everybody’s Business,” Hollywood Reporter, April 16) For those who didn’t follow the feud between Cramer and Stewart, the elevator speech goes like this: perhaps it’s time for financial TV news to stop acting like clowns and entertainers and actually start reporting the news. If you want to know what I really think, read my blog on how every stupid thing I know about the economy I got from the TV.

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