Detailing the need for transparency, laying out a framework for bank recovery and making a clear and succinct case for a smart regulatory system, TARP overseer Elizabeth Warren did what few other "Daily Show" guests have done in the past year: instill confidence in its host, Jon Stewart.
In a relatively lengthy interview that aired on Wednesday night, Warren, ever the academic, managed to generate a few laughs, none more so when she stumped herself on what exactly the acronym PPIP meant (for the record: the Public-Private Investment Program). But it was her commentary on the economy, at once clear and forthright, that left Stewart soothed.
"[This] is probably the first time in probably six months to a year that I feel better," said the Daily Show host. "I don't know what it is you just did right there. But for a second that was like financial chicken soup for me."
Warren did not endorse liquidation of major banks or, for that matter, the particulars of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner's plan; saying merely that "It is a bank by bank thing."
She called for transparency and painted her job as the protester banging the gates of the government institutions overseeing the whole recovery enterprise. It was her case for a new system of regulation, however, that left Stewart at ease.
We start[ed] pulling the threads out of the regulatory fabric and what's the first thing we get: we get S+L crisis," Warren said. "Seven hundred financial institutions fail. Ten years later what do we get? Long Term Capital Management, where we learn that when something collapses in one place in the world it collapses everywhere else. Early 2000s, we get Enron, which tells us the books are dirty. And what is our repeated response? We just keep pulling the threads out of the regulatory fabric.
So we have two choices -- we are going to make a big decision, probably over about the next six months. And the big decision we are going to make is going to go one way or another. We are going decide, basically, "Hey, we don't need regulation. You know, it is fine. Boom and bust, boom and bust, boom and bust, and good luck with your 401k." Or alternatively we are going to say, you know, "We are going to out with some smart regulation that is going to adapt to the fact that we have new products and what we are going to have going forward is we are going to have some stability and real prosperity for ordinary folks."
"And that," Stewart offered with a sarcastic tip of the tongue, "is socialism."
His economic acid-reflux momentarily alleviated, he added: "If they don't give you transparency, tell me, because I will keep talking about it on the same network after 'Mind of Mencia.'"