Tue May 6th, 2008 at 04:16:42 AM EST
Success Breeds Failure - Paul Krugman - New York Times
Cross your fingers, knock on wood: it's possible, though by no means certain, that the worst of the financial crisis is over. That's the good news.
The bad news is that as markets stabilize, chances for fundamental financial reform may be slipping away. As a result, the next crisis will probably be worse than this one.
Let's look at the story so far.
After the financial crisis that ushered in the Great Depression, New Deal reformers regulated the banking system, with the goal of protecting the economy from future crises. The new system worked well for half a century.
Eventually, however, Wall Street did an end run around regulation, using complex financial arrangements to put most of the business of banking outside the regulators' reach.
We now know that things that aren't called banks can nonetheless generate banking crises, and that the Fed needs to carry out bank-type rescues on their behalf. It follows that hedge funds, special investment vehicles and so on need bank-type regulation. In particular, they need to be required to have adequate capital.
And now that the financial clouds have lifted a bit, the pushback against sensible regulation is in full swing. Even the Fed's very modest proposal to curb abusive mortgage lending with new standards is under fire, and there are worrying signs that the Fed may back down.
And if we don't fix the system now, there's every reason to believe that the next crisis will be bigger still -- and that the Fed won't have enough duct tape to hold things together.
The Anglo Disease pandemy has not ended yet...