#American Banker

8 01, 2024

M010824

2024-01-08T11:25:26-05:00January 8th, 2024|6- Client Memo|

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.

m010824.pdf

8 01, 2024

Karen Petrou: Reflections on Regulatory Failure and a Better Way

2024-01-08T11:25:21-05:00January 8th, 2024|The Vault|

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.

We know in our everyday lives that complex rules backed by empty threats lead to very bad behavior.  For example, most parents do not get their kids to brush their teeth by issuing an edict reading something like:

It has long been demonstrated that brushing your teeth from top to bottom, tooth-by-tooth, flossing hereafter and using toothpaste meeting specifications defined herein will achieve cleaner teeth, a brighter smile, improved public acceptance of the tooth-bearer, and lower cost to …

6 11, 2023

M110623

2023-11-06T15:47:06-05:00November 6th, 2023|6- Client Memo|

How Regulators Unwittingly Run Roughshod Over the Public Good

Friday’s American Banker included a Kyle Campbell article quoting me reiterating some points in my recent testimony about the need for cumulative-impact analyses of the raft of pending rules.  This led others to suggest ulterior motives, arguing that calls for cumulative-impact analyses are fig-leaves dangling over efforts to gut the rules.  While advocates do not often argue for analytical purity when obscurity suits them, the absence of analytical rigor is nonetheless an abrogation of the public good by public officials.  Setting rules based on airy assertions that it will all come right in the end since there most likely won’t be financial crises or at least new financial crises like the old financial crises ensures that this regulatory round will have at least as much wreckage as those that came before.

M110623.pdf

6 11, 2023

Karen Petrou: How Regulators Unwittingly Run Roughshod Over the Public Good

2023-11-06T15:47:01-05:00November 6th, 2023|The Vault|

Friday’s American Banker included a Kyle Campbell article quoting me reiterating some points in my recent testimony about the need for cumulative-impact analyses of the raft of pending rules.  This led others to suggest ulterior motives, arguing that calls for cumulative-impact analyses are fig-leaves dangling over efforts to gut the rules.  While advocates do not often argue for analytical purity when obscurity suits them, the absence of analytical rigor is nonetheless an abrogation of the public good by public officials.  Setting rules based on airy assertions that it will all come right in the end since there most likely won’t be financial crises or at least new financial crises like the old financial crises ensures that this regulatory round will have at least as much wreckage as those that came before.

The public good when it comes to financial policy is best measured by careful consideration of something wholly absent in all of the agencies’ thinking:  economic equality.  In its absence, the nation will suffer from still-worse political acrimony, an even worse public-health crisis, growing populations of Americans without fundamental financial security, and even higher odds for still more devastating financial crises.  How do I know this?  Look at American financial policy since at least 2000 and see what happened.

The Fed is particularly high-handed when it comes to public-good rationales not just for its rules, but also for its still more vital monetary-policy responsibilities.  The Fed cloaks itself with the “dual” mandate of “maximum employment” and “price stability” even …

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