January 18, 2010

The real riggers were the regulators and perhaps now the taxman

Sir Philip Stephens in “How the big banks rigged the market” January 18 considers that the reason for the huge profits of some banks is that “they have been operating as natural oligopolies”. Given that much of the strength of the most profitable banks did derive from favourable regulations, the term unnatural oligopolies might describe better what really happened, in which case the real riggers were the regulators.

And let us also remember that one of the largest sources of profitability over the last years has been that of packaging high risk loans and, with a little help of their friends the credit rating agencies, selling them off as low risk loans, and this has really nothing to do with how the market is structured.

To now try to correct for the above by imposing taxes on the banks, sounds like rigging it also in favour of the taxman. The real question we have is... when will the banks be rigged in favour of the economy growth they are supposed to assist us with? Never?