Friday, January 15, 2010

The Banking Crisis Responsibility Fee and Inefficient Markets

I have a piece up at the Guardian on Obama's proposed financial crisis responsibility fee, which "wouldn't directly affect compensation, but would rein in the risky behaviour that bonuses encourage and reward." It's a good proposal which should rein in risky behavior and help deflect some of the criticism Obama has taken for bailing out the banks, an unpleasant but necessary task, despite the critics:
The more doctrinaire conservatives still argue that the banking system didn't need government help. This point of view isn't confined to a few Tea Party activists and cable news pundits, but can be found among leading academics. Eugene Fama, a leading theorist of modern finance, remarkably argues that the banking system would have crashed for no more than a week or two back in 2008, and then recovered.
Finance theory aside, Obama's proposal makes policy and political sense:
This time, however, smart policy equals smart politics. The financial crisis responsibility fee would pay down the deficit, stick it to the bankers, and actually place some controls on their thirst for ever greater leverage. What's not to like?
Obama came out sharply, saying that bankers were "locking arms with the opposition party to stand in the way of reforms to prevent another crisis."

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