What a fun day for debate!
Former Fed Chair, Paul Volcker went way off-script in Chicago yesterday and "moved unsparingly from banks to regulators to business schools to the Fed to money-market funds during his luncheon speech. He praised the new financial overhaul law, but said the system remained at risk because it is subject to future “judgments” of individual regulators, who he said would be relentlessly lobbied by banks and politicians to soften the rules."
Banking — Investment banks became “trading machines instead of investment banks [leading to] encroachment on the territory of commercial banks, and commercial banks encroached on the territory of others in a way that couldn’t easily be managed by the old supervisory system.”
Financial system — “The financial system is broken. We can use that term in late 2008, and I think it’s fair to still use the term unfortunately. We know that parts of it are absolutely broken, like the mortgage market which only happens to be the most important part of our capital markets [and has] become a subsidiary of the U.S. government.”
Risk management — “Markets that are prone to excesses in one direction or another are not simply managed under the assumption that we can assume that everybody follows a normal distribution curve. Normal distribution curves — if I would submit to you — do not exist in financial markets. Its not that they are fat tails, they don’t exist. I keep hearing about fat tails, and Jesus, it’s only supposed to occur every 100 years, and it appears every 10 years.”
The recession — “It’s so difficult to get out of this recession because of the basic disequilibrium in the real economy.”
This afternoon, Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker will speak in Kentucky (his hometown) on "Reflections on Economics, Policy and Financial Crisis!" and it always makes me nervous when Fed Presidents put exclamation marks on the word "crisis" so we’ll be paying attention to that one. After market hours, at 4:30, Uncle Ben comes to the plate with "Implications of the Financial Crisis for Economics," which sounds like a snoozer but that’s three Fed guys in a row saying "crisis" in the same day – I don’t like it!