Reflections on Regulatory Failure and a Better Way
Earlier today, we released our 2024 regulatory outlook, a nice summary of which may be found on Politico’s Morning Money. As I reviewed the draft, I realized how much of what the agencies plan is doomed to do little of what has long been needed to insulate the financial system from repeated shock. This is a most wearisome thought that then prompted the philosophical reflection also to be found in this brief. It asks why lots more bank rules do so little for financial resilience yet are always followed by still more rules and then an even bigger bust. I conclude that financial policy should be founded on Samuel Johnson’s observation that, “when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.” That is, redesign policy from one focused on endless, ever-more-complex rules spawning still larger bureaucracies into credible, certain, painful resolutions to concentrate each financial institution’s mind and that of a market that would no longer be assured of bailout or backstop.