Too Big to Manage

Yesterday I asked: If JPMorgan Chase’s loss of $2 billion shows the need for more bank regulation, what should the federal government’s $1.3 trillion deficit tell us? And Michael Cannon pointed out that in the private sector, people who make big mistakes tend to lose their jobs, unlike the public sector.

Today another theme is being heard, at the Wall Street Journal, on NPR, and many more places including even here at Cato@Liberty: banks like JPMorgan, which has annual revenue of $100 billion, are just “too big to manage.”

And again I have to wonder: if large banks are too big to manage, what should we think about the federal government? The federal government is the largest landowner, the largest insurer, the largest employer, the largest banker in the country. It operates everything from a judiciary to the most complex armed force in history to numerous health insurance programs to a retirement system to a highway system to a peanut subsidy program.

If JPMorgan is too big to manage, can we possibly expect competent management of such a massive operation that doesn’t even face the feedback of profit and loss?