"As the credit crisis has slowly expanded and worsened, there has been a flurry of activity in Washington to reduce the damage from it. There are bailouts and tax breaks, and even checks to parents of school-age children. But there is remarkably little action aimed at getting the credit system functioning again. In part, that is because there is a scarcity of ideas. Paul Volker [former Fed head] ... was right this week when he said the financial engineers had created a 'demonstrably fragile financial system that has produced unimaginable wealth for some, while repeatedly risking a cascading breakdown of the system as a whole.' ... For the time being, the solutions being pushed would not seem unreasonable to an old-fashioned socialist. ... The Basel II capital rules for commerical and investment banks clearly need to be strengthened, and regulators need to develop the ability to do their own risk assessments, rather than leaving the task to the banks and the credit rating agencies. That will take time and cost a lot of money, and it will require the derivative markets to be much more transparent. ... Most of the critics--myself included--did not anticipate the severity of the credit collapse, and we should not act as if the executives and regulators who failed to prevent it were blind or stupid. ... Volker, who knows how inflation can get out of hand, said the current situation reminds him of the early 1970's when inflation began to accelerate", my emphasis, Floyd Norris (FN) at http://www.nytimes.com/, 11 April 2008.
Right on EP!. What does, "ensure the stability" mean? Why is stability good? "Meltdown" sounds frightening. What does it mean? I only know who gains and who loses. In today's America responsible savers lose, irresponsible bankers and borrowers gain. The regulators' job is to ensure politically favored classes have the public bear their losses. If we want to prevent this, shut down the regulators! Let investment banks fail! No, no, no! That might mean Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs might have to find a real job. Like shining shoes in Grand Central Station. See my 12 December 2007 post. Alcoholics Anonyomous (AA) has a concept, "hitting bottom". AA preaches an alcoholic won't sober up until he hits bottom. Similarly, bankruptcies may make our investment banker overlords hit bottom. I read terms like "meltdown" and think of Andrew Jackson's (AJ) war with Nicholas Biddle (NB) over the Second Bank of the US recharter. NB threatened to plunge the US into a depression unless the bank was rechartered. AJ was not dissauded. He launched his pet banks program and eventually killed the "moster". See my 24 December 2007 post.
I largely disagree with FN. First, the damage is, now! The "activity" intends to redirect the damage to politically disfavored classes. As for socialism, I agree, noting Karl Marx favored creating a central bank, see my 17 September 2007 post. The financial engineers were either fools or knaves, but created a system to redistribute wealth. The idea of regulators doing risk assessments is laughable. Why not have CPAs do it? Supposedly we should under Generally Accepted Auditing Standards. "Stuff and nonsense" said Alice. What does Mark Olson think about this? CPAs can't do it, even if they publish documents like that Francine McKenna cited at http://www.retheauditors.com/, 8 April 2008.
Why not think the executives and regulators were "blind or stupid"? I saw the collapse coming. So did others. So? Will FN suggest making me say, Comptroller of the Currency? I agree with FN, the executives and regulators were neither blind nor stupid: they knew what they were doing and planned to "cry wolf" to Congress all along if and when the credit markets blew up in their perennial game of "financial chicken" played with the real economy! Well, FN, fools or knaves? My vote: knaves.