Thursday, March 20, 2008

having the cake and eating it too - and we pay

I agree with Chris Farrell - regulation of Wall Street and the financial markets IS necessary. Farrell writes, In our system it's impossible to insist that Wall Street cough up the vast sums earned during the go-go years. That said, when the turmoil calms down regulators should sharply step up their scrutiny of the industry, demand more transparency, and require greater accountability among financiers. The pendulum had swung too far toward "anything goes."

Yep. Farrell also writes,

What a deal. Financiers preached the free-market gospel and pocketed unheard-of sums of money - yet when times got tough, they called for a government bailout. "Markets work if participants are at risk to both positive and negative consequences," says Raghuram Rajan, an economist at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business and a former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund. "But on the upside, [financial firms] said, 'Hands off, don't upset the party,' and 'Don't even think of regulating us,' yet when things go the other way they say, 'We need help.'"

In other words, Wall Street has privatized profits and socialized losses. And if that is the deal they expect, they should socialize more of the profits and quit their bitching about regulation. But they won't of course, they like the current system too much. We'll see whether Obama, Clinton, or McCain and Congress have the guts to try to increase regulation - because I think it's safe to assume the current de facto president won't.

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