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lunes, enero 31, 2011

Sobre la codicia y su regulación

¿Era evitable la crisis financiera? El New York Times en su sección Room for Debate recoge la opinión de varios especialistas en torno a dicha cuestión. Uno de ellos ha recibido respuestas especialmente virulentas a la vez que interesantes de parte de los lectores, se trata del profesor de Harvard y "libertario" confeso Jeffrey A. Miron, que titula su colaboración More than just greed.

Los argumentos de Miron apuntan a eliminar la intervención gubernamental y se resumen en lo siguiente:
... every industry seeks profit, yet crises occur almost exclusively in the financial sector. Why? Because governments have long protected financial institutions from the risks associated with their lending and trading activities... The message emanating from the Fed was clear: don’t worry too much about risk, since Uncle Alan will come to the rescue when things go wrong. To avoid future panics, governments must learn to tie their hands and let markets punish excessive risk-taking. That is easier said than done, but nothing else can prevent future crises.
 Las respuestas critican a Miron el pretender convertir a las acciones gubernamentales en responsables de la crisis cuando sugiere que sería mejor dejar a las instituciones financieras libres de mayor regulación; los argumentos de la otra parte apuntan a denunciar a) una creencia dogmática en la teoría, que ha mostrado repetidamente su incorrección, b) una falta de consideración de los daños colaterales de las fallas sistémicas, y c) la necesidad de implementar un esquema que sancione el comportamiento inmoral:
  • Is this a joke? This (letting banks fail) is exactly what was done up until the Panic of '07 and the result in every case was widespread economic calamity (1837, 1893, and of course 1929). Then the Fed was given real teeth in 1933 and surprise, surprise--no financial crises until the 1989 S&L debacle, brought on by deregulation under Reagan starting in the early 1980's. Now, of course, we are back to Marx's famous prediction of every 10 years a collapse (S&L 1989, East Asian/Long Term Capital Management 1998, and the Great Recession, 2008). The only cure is not to let banks engage in speculation (Glass-Seagal, repealed in 2000). Period. Letting the banks self-destruct is like letting a suicide bomber detonate--certainly it kills the suicide bomber but the problem is the collateral damage. The same is true with the banks. (KM)
  • A bank or company can fail, but it is simply a paper construct. The equity holders, bond holders, customers and the economy at large suffer greatly but the actual "risk takers" which are primarily richly compensated executives and traders still retain vast wealth. Hardly punishment. Markets certainly will not prevent future crises as long as the culpable actors and their emulators see the vast personal rewards to be gained regardless of consequences to others. (chucko)
  • This sounds to me like a statement from someone who has never participated in a financial market and has beliefs, rather than knowledge... this paradigm is unlikely to work. More capital, so that when financial firms lose money, it is their money, seems more prudent. Of course, the regulated companies will not embrace this approach. Return on equity is most often used as a measure of business success. (Jim)
  • Some serious jail sentences would keep it from happening again. (Quasimodo)
  • I have no problem letting banks and other financial institutions take any and all punishment the market gives because of excessive risk taking. But how do you protect people whose mortgages and retirement accounts are just pawns in the larger banking game? I didn't buy a condo because I wanted three different banks to buy and sell my mortgage. I didn't work hard to have a perfect credit score only to see it destroyed by the banks excessive risk taking. If taking a 30-year fixed loan only gets me into financial trouble why should I ever believe in banks or "the market" again. (Robb)
  • All you have to do to stop excessive risk taking by institutions and executives is to reinstall the link between the risk taking behavior and the consequences. For lenders or loan originators, require that they retain 10% of every loan they sell. Create a 5 year clawback so any bad loan losses can be recouped from bonuses paid to executives. To be sure, these players would emit blood curdling screams and offer dire predictions of economic Armageddon. All nonsense. Of course these people do not want to give up the game they rigged...heads I win, tails you lose. Make sure they have some skin in the game, and at some of this despicable behavior will stop. At least until they find a new way to cheat. (Mark)
  • I hope this guy is more honest in his Harvard lectures or we're well on our way to more national economic disasters. He neglects to mention that while the Federal /Reserve was created by the government it is populated, governed and run by BANKS. (seeing with open eyes)
  • This is like saying, "Please DON"T stop me so I can kill again and the self-regulating features of the market will punish me." What a joke. (lime)
  • Professor Miron indicates that the reason financial crises occur almost exclusively in the financial sector is because the government assumes some of the risk that these institutions take, which is right as far as it goes, and offers their failure as the correct free-market solution. However, the failure of such institutions is catastrophic for many beyond the banking industry and is not a viable option unless we want to return to the bank-run days of the late 1800's... The evidence is in that "free-market capitalism" leads to corruption and an increased frequency of failure in the financial industry. We had a pretty good run from the end of WWII up to deregulation. Deregulation and free-market capitalism are belief systems for which most supporting evidence can be easily deconstructed and shown to be false... As the 2008 recession shows, the stakes are too high for the rest of us. Professor Miron, I am sorry, but I must give you an "F" for your misguided essay. (Jim)
  • Let all the suicide bombers come to Manhattan and blow themselves up; we will rebuild and be better off. Let the drug companies determine the safety of the drugs they produce; many people will die but the good drugs will eventually be recognized by the consumer. Let the coal companies set their own safety standard ; a few people will die but coal will be cheaper for everyone else. God bless the Free Market and God bless Ann Rand and Alan Greenspan. (Michael Lang)
  • I guess there is nothing economists can do except sort through the wreckages to affix blame on everyone. (mcmt)
  • I have a real problem with the libertarians in the crowd, chief being -it doesn't work - not in the world were in. While I have no problem with the general principle of letting markets punish excessive risk taking, sometimes those who take the big risks and those who get punished for it are different actors... And the results can be catastrophic. Instead of financial genius, it looks like there were some people in this game with daily access to privileged information and the tools to leverage gain at other people risk. And no one to stop them. (steveo)

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