Repost from Jesse’s Cafe…
~~~ “Personally I doubt that the US is capable of self-reform at this time.
The corruption of the socio-political system runs deep, and is embedded in the national consciousness as a reflexive set of slogans (the big lies) that substitute for practical thought and effective policy formation.
The examples of thinkspeak are numerous. People become parrots for their favorite corporate news/opinion channel, to which they become emotionally addicted, because otherwise, reality is too painful and complex to face. And so they are blinded and cut off from productive and even civil discourse, trapped within deep wells of subjectivity.
The major media in the States are owned by a few corporations. The Congress listens to its large contributors and ignores the public except at election time, when it inundates them with expensive media campaigns, political spin, false promises, and propaganda. And then it is back to business as usual.
“When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men in a society, over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.” Frederic Bastiat
What will it take? It took the Japanese about twenty years of economic privation to finally get rid of the LDP political party that had ruled the country since the Second World War. It may take ten years of stagflation and economic hardship for the American people to wake up and put an end to the crony capitalism that has captured its two party political system. A good start would be to continue to defeat incumbents from both parties, and to start electing viable third party candidates.
But that demands a more thoughtful venue than is currently the norm. It really does seem that bad to a relatively objective observer.
Eleven Lessons From Iceland
13 February 2010
…What can be done to reduce the likelihood of a repeat performance – in Iceland and elsewhere? Here are eleven main lessons from the Iceland story, lessons that are likely to be relevant in other, less extreme cases as well.
Lesson 1. We need effective legal protection against predatory lending just as we have long had laws against quack doctors. The problem is asymmetric information. Doctors and bankers typically know more about complicated medical procedures and complex financial instruments than their patients and clients. The asymmetry creates a need for legal protection through judicious licensing and other means against financial (as well as medical) malpractice to protect the weak against the strong.
Lesson 2. We should not allow rating agencies to be paid by the banks they have been set up to assess. The present arrangement creates an obvious and fundamental conflict of interest and needs to be revised. Likewise, banks should not be allowed to hire employees of regulatory agencies, thereby signalling that by looking the other way, remaining regulators may also expect to receive lucrative job offers from banks. (I would add a prohibition of movement between regulators and the banks without a significant hiatus of at least four years. – Jesse)
Lesson 3. We need more effective regulation of banks and other financial institutions; presently, this is work in progress in Europe and the US (Volcker 2010). (Too slow, too driven by the banks themselves in the US – Jesse)
*Source: Why do we trust the financial priests? BBC, Robert Peston, Saturday, 9 January 2010
“The Icelanders have risen up and humiliated their political class over its handling of the financial crisis, as I mentioned on Thursday.
But there’s nothing terribly unusual about their sense of powerlessness and alienation from the writing of the rules of the banking and finance game.
When it comes to how banks are allowed to behave, sovereignty over decision-making rarely rests with citizens.
Did anyone actually ask us whether we wanted our banks rescued to the tune of £1.2 trillion during and after the crisis of 2008?
If they had, we might have said no.
So perhaps it’s a good thing that politicians and central bankers simply did what they thought was best for us, without consulting – because if the banks had gone down, the contraction in our economy would have been far far worse than it turned out to be. Better to leave it to the experts, eh?
But hang on a tick: who actually got us into this mess in the first place?
It wasn’t the fault of ordinary citizens like you and me.
It was those self-proclaimed experts who allowed our banks to become too huge, too complicated, too addicted to taking crazy risks, and too poorly endowed with life-preserving capital.
From the Financial Times and opinion piece by former US Treasury Secretary Nicholas Brady…
Refocus the regulatory debate on essentials
By Nicholas F. Brady
Published: January 4 2010 19:57 | Last updated: January 4 2010 19:57
There is an inexorable drive on both sides of the Atlantic to finalise new rules, regulations and laws to place the financial system on a sounder footing. But in their zeal to act, politicians and regulators are looking through the wrong end of the telescope. Too much attention is being paid to maintaining a status quo that allows banks to continue engaging in the full range of activities to which they have become accustomed – admittedly under a number of regulatory constraints – without dealing with the fundamental causes of today’s critical difficulties.
Policymakers are intent on announcing all manner of new capital requirements, leverage ratios, “living wills” and directives on risk management, while brushing aside warnings by both Mervyn King, the governor of the Bank of England, and former US Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker that our banking system is unsound. Mr King and Mr Volcker are not alone in their concern that we may now miss a unique opportunity to secure core reforms.
The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision – the key multilateral authority on setting financial rules – dumped an 88-page present on governments and banks just before Christmas and, true to form, its focus was on technical ratios designed to force banking stability. The US House of Representatives last month voted for regulatory reform legislation that is no better. The House fails to consider the distinction between things that are critical and things that are merely important. The same mistake seems likely from the European Union, which is in the throes of establishing three new regulatory authorities.
The safety and soundness of the financial system is indisputably essential; without it, we have nothing. The long history of financial collapses proves this point. While efficiency, creativity and credit availability are important, they cannot be allowed to trump safety and soundness.