Friday, April 3, 2009

Sanity From the Wall Street Journal?

We're not in Kansas anymore. Someone aside from a token liberal is making sense in the Wall Street Journal's opinion pages. Hedge funder Paul Singer takes to Fox News Dead Tree Version, opining that
While many of Mr. Obama's ideas warrant skepticism, conservative opposition to any expanded role for government is a mistake. There is an urgent need for a new global regulatory initiative that addresses the primary cause of the financial collapse: highly leveraged and concentrated positions.

Reform must begin with a regulatory regime focused on "behavior" instead of "systemically important institutions." Today, even small entities that trade complex instruments or are granted sufficient leverage can threaten the global financial system.

It's true that monetary policy was too lax for too long, and the government encouraged lending to people who were unlikely to repay their loans. But this crisis was primarily caused by managements and individuals throughout the financial system who exercised extremely poor judgment. The private sector, not the public sector, is where the biggest mistakes were made.
How did this get by the Journal's editors? No mention of the CRA? Or Fannie and Freddie? And an acknowledgement that crazy levels of leverage, non-existent risk management, and perverse short-term bonus incentives were the key factors in this crisis - it's so...reality-based. What's next, admitting that this is the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression? Maybe not - but we can hope.

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