Sunday, 25 May 2014

A new game: spot the most innovative argument against financial reform

Six years after the collapse of Lehman Brothers, those interested in the dynamics of financial regulation can play a new game: spot the most innovative argument against the litany of reforms introduced since the crisis. Traditional ones such as the impact on lending, economic growth, liquidity do not count. Floyd Norris, of the New York Times, does well here: in the US debates over identifying some non-banks as systemically important, 'mutual fund industry says that designating a fund manager as systemically important could raise its costs. Those costs could be passed on to fund investors, who are taxpayers, and so would amount to a taxpayer bailout'.  Taken to its logical conclusion, this argument says forget about systemic risk, macroprudential policies, Basel III, since the taxpayer always pays, now or later. Of course, the mutual fund industry doesnt bother itself with internal consistency of the argument (which taxpayers would pay and how much in a regulation now, smaller crisis late). 

I have come across another innovative narrative: that regulation creates systemic risk. The view was put forward in a recent paper "Collateral is the new cash: the systemic risks of inhibiting collateral fluidity", written by the European Repo Council (ERC), the trade body representing the views of European repo participants, and presented at an ERC seminar on Friday the 16th of May, in London. The paper will also be presented in France, in partnership with Banque de France, that is to announce new ways to help market-driven manufacturing of high-quality collateral through Euro Secured Notes.