Wall Street B-team arrives in D.C.

The group of investors has a mostly mixed track record, while others in the business have little or no history

  

(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are their own.)

NEW YORK - Wall Street’s B-team is getting its day in the Beltway sun. Elizabeth Warren and other Senate Democrats sent letters to a handful of managers of special-purpose acquisition companies, including Michael Klein, Chamath Palihapitiya, and Tilman Fertitta, questioning incentive arrangements.

The group of investors has a mostly mixed track record, while others in the business have little or no history. And unlike other financial institutions that have been marched in front of Congress, SPACs are just funding vehicles, void of any substance, save cash until they buy a target company. While retail investors could get hurt, SPACs have less potential to damage the wider economy and are therefore of lesser importance to Warren’s constituents. They may be nevertheless be put through their paces.

If Klein, Fertitta, and others have to drill into the details of how SPACs work before Congress, it would be a healthy educational process. But lawmakers have spent more than a decade bellyaching about banks’ size, only to allow them to grow bigger, not least because a divided government has thwarted major overhauls. Given Warren and others have been able to do very little to rein in financial institutions that are far more important to the economy, their impact on SPACs may be as empty as blank-check firms themselves. (By Lauren Silva Laughlin)

(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are their own.)

(Editing by Swaha Pattanaik and Amanda Gomez) ((SIGN UP FOR BREAKINGVIEWS EMAIL ALERTS: http://bit.ly/BVsubscribe))


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