A Warning We Should Have Heeded

Nice article in the Telegraph about Brooksley Born who tried and failed to get former President Clinton to regulate derivatives.

Admirably independent, Born issued warnings about the systemic dangers posed by America’s vast and entirely unregulated “over-the-counter” derivatives market. Worth some $600,000bn (£375,000bn) today, having grown 20-fold since Born first raised the alarm, there is now near-universal agreement this massive expansion, and the counter-party risks involved, did a lot to cause the current crisis.

When she issued her warnings, though, Born was treated disgracefully. As a first step, she asked financial institutions for data about OTC derivative trading. But Clinton’s Treasury and Alan Greenspan’s Federal Reserve issued a joint statement expressing “grave concern about this action and its possible consequences”. Larry Summers, then Deputy Treasury Secretary, said Born’s request “cast the shadow of regulatory uncertainty over an otherwise thriving market, raising risks for the stability and competitiveness of American derivative trading”.

As Born recently observed: “Recognising the dangers wasn’t rocket science … but it was contrary to the conventional wisdom and the economic interests of Wall Street”.

If only that last sentence could somehow be implanted in the brains of those that will have a say in the financial regime that emerges from this chaos. Forget the conventional wisdom and go against not just the economic interests of Wall Street but against vested interests period.

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About Tom Lindmark 401 Articles

I’m not sure that credentials mean much when it comes to writing about things but people seem to want to see them, so briefly here are mine. I have an undergraduate degree in economics from an undistinguished Midwestern university and masters in international business from an equally undistinguished Southwestern University. I spent a number of years working for large banks lending to lots of different industries. For the past few years, I’ve been engaged in real estate finance – primarily for commercial projects. Like a lot of other finance guys, I’m looking for a job at this point in time.

Given all of that, I suggest that you take what I write with the appropriate grain of salt. I try and figure out what’s behind the news but suspect that I’m often delusional. Nevertheless, I keep throwing things out there and occasionally it sticks. I do read the comments that readers leave and to the extent I can reply to them. I also reply to all emails so feel free to contact me if you want to discuss something at more length. Oh, I also have a very thick skin, so if you disagree feel free to say so.

Enjoy what I write and let me know when I’m off base – I probably won’t agree with you but don’t be shy.

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