May 07, 2010

We had a monstrously dumb and stupid, government failure

Sir, Samuel Brittan in “A credo for a revived capitalism” May 7 reminds us that we need to discuss more about “government failure”. He is absolutely right.

In October 2004, as an Executive Director of the World Bank, I who am not an investment banker, nor a financial regulator, presented at the Board a written statement were I opined: “We believe 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.”

And long before that and during my whole term as an ED I repeated, as much as I could, bordering on annoying, that the ratings issued by the credit agencies were just a new breed of systemic error to be propagated at modern speeds… and that we should not follow the money but follow the triple-As.

The real question now is what keeps the world from listening when the innocent child screams out “the emperor is naked”?

Look at the European governments, accepting the dictates of the Basel Committee and allowing their banks a 62.5 to one leverage when stocking up on Greek debts and alike… if that is just not a monstrously dumb and stupid government failure, what is?