Despite still defending the Fed’s bailouts, Fed Governor Kevin Warsh gave a speech this morning offering a few insights about reforming our financial system that seem to be lost on both Obama and Bernanke.
A few highlights:
The mortgage finance system is owed far stricter scrutiny to gather a fuller appreciation of the causes of the crisis. The government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs), Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, for example, were given license and direction to take excessive risks.
One has to hope that both Bernanke and Obama are listening. The silence of the Obama administration on fixing Fannie and Freddie is nothing short of shocking and irresponsible. Any commitment to real reform has to include the GSEs.
Granting new powers to resolve failing firms in the discretionary hands of regulators is unlikely, in the near-term, to drive the market discipline required to avoid the recurrence of financial crises.
…Some newly-empowered and untested regulatory structure is not likely – in and of itself – to be sufficient to tackle institutions that are too-big-to-fail, particularly as memories of the crisis fade. Regulation is too important to be left to regulators alone.
I believe these two points cannot be stated more strongly: what we need is more market discipline, rather than less. Putting the entire weight of our financial system on the backs of our financial regulators is a crisis just waiting to happen. Sadly the direction of both President Obama and Congress seems to be in undermining market monitoring of firms and relying solely on regulators to “get it right” – the very same regulators who were asleep at the wheel prior to the last crisis.