Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) did a far better job of fixing finance than President Barack H. Obama has done so far. FDR's two big fixes really worked while Obama's extension of his predecessors' policies and people -- while calming to markets -- has not fixed what ails the U.S. economy and Wall Street's too-powerful role within it.
To be fair, Obama has not really focused on this yet but plans to make a speech about it on Monday -- in which he'll urge passage of reforms like greater consumer protection and a change to bank regulation. But even these mild changes are getting bogged down by Wall Street lobbyists and -- Obama himself -- who is putting a higher priority on health care legislation.
When FDR took over as president in 1933, he took two actions that reflected a deep understanding of why the Great Depression had occurred and what it would take to keep it from happening again. Millions of Americans lost confidence in the banking system so FDR held a bank holiday -- which sent an army of auditors into the U.S. banks, closed the insolvent ones and reopened the healthy ones. This, along with the creation of the FDIC, gradually restored confidence in the banking system.