Wednesday, December 3, 2014

I agree with much in Martin Wolf’s “The Shifts and the Shocks”

Basically because it fails to correctly explain how the current financial crisis came about; and therefore makes it a bit harder for us to get out of it, I object strongly, on many aspects, to Martin Wolf’s “The Shifts and the Shocks”

But that does of course not mean that I do not agree with much of what is said there and so, in this comment to which I will come back when in need (I read jumping from here to there), I will post those aspects which I most agree with:

For instance on page 252 Wolf writes: “Indeed, so long as the [bank] system allows leverage of 30:1, these businesses are designed to fail. The belief that failure of a business can be managed smoothly and without effects, with hybrid capital instruments, resolution regimes and living wills, is naively optimistic”. And I have annotated a clear “YES!” next to that.

And on page 253-4 Wolf writes: “Each institution may be diversified. But they will be vulnerable if all are diversified in the same way. Worse, being subjected to similar microprudential regulation makes it more likely that firms will end up being diversified in much the same way and exposed to many of the same risks”. Indeed! As someone who in 1999 wrote in an Op-Ed “The possible Big Bang that scares me the most is the one that could happen the day those genius bank regulators in Basel, playing Gods, manage to introduce a systemic error in the financial system, which will cause the collapse of all of our banks”… you can be sure I annotated a clear and big “YES!” next to that too.