December 02, 2011

Small and frequent tremors might help to keep the big one away.

Sir, Roger Altman concludes “We need not fret over the omnipotent markets” December 2, with “There may be more frequent market crisis. We should not rush to conclude that they will end in tears”. I would word it differently, the more frequent the market crisis, the less the probability it will end in tears. 

In May 2003, as an Executive Director of the World Bank (just 1 of 24) I made the following comment at a workshop for bank regulators at the World Bank: “A regulation that regulates less, but is more active and trigger-happy, and treats a bank failure as something normal, as it should be, could be a much more effective regulation. The avoidance of a crisis, by any means, might strangely lead us to the one and only bank, therefore setting us up for the mother of all moral hazards—just to proceed later to the mother of all bank crises. Knowing that “the larger they are, the harder they fall,” if I were regulator, I would be thinking about a progressive tax on size” 

In my country, Venezuela, when it trembles just a little, many of us applaud, because we feel that small tremors might help to keep the huge ones away.