Saturday, April 17, 2010

We can’t shame enough the irresponsible silent experts and the plain lousy regulators

As an Executive Director of the World Bank and a member of its Audit Committee 2002-2004, time and again I repeated what I extract below from my book Voice and Noise, 2006.

“From what I have read and seen, I believe there is a clear possibility that much of the world’s financial markets are currently being dangerously overstretched through an exaggerated reliance on intrinsically weak financial models that are based on very short series of statistical evidence and very doubtful volatility assumptions”

I also frequently spoke out on the risk posed by empowering the credit rating agencies too much and, in May 2003, I even had a letter published in the Financial Times which ended with “I simply cannot understand how a world that preaches the value of the invisible hand of millions of market agents can then go out and delegate so much regulatory power to a limited number of human and very fallible credit-rating agencies. This sure must be setting us up for the mother of all systemic errors.”

Therefore if someone like me, a non-expert on financial markets, could have said the previous back in 2003-2004, I can only conclude that a crime of pure negligence, of sheer monumental proportions, was committed against humanity by an incredibly large number of professionals.

And so even though I agree of course that all those who pulled the triggers should go to prison, like those accused in Goldman Sachs, if proved guilty, in that prison, for true justice to be served, they should be accompanied by all those who kept mum because it was generally convenient for them to keep mum… and of course by the plain lousy regulators.

We must not let the intellectual mum-keepers go free! The world deserves more than some mea-culpa, the world deserves to find how to make the responsible speak up in time… if need be even by law.

The largest moral hazard is not having banks-bailed out… it is not shaming enough the irresponsible silent experts and the plain lousy regulators.

Some argue no one saw the crisis, “20.000 blind economists”, this is pure nonsense. Our biggest problem is how some few egos in a mutual admiration club dominate the debate and sell us what they believe sounds the best.