nancylebov (nancylebov) wrote,

On having something that looks vaguely like regulation

The SEC was getting warnings for 16 years about Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme.

This isn't a matter of one administration.

Was anyone saying that the SEC wasn't doing enough 15 years ago? This is a real question-- my impression is that the two major points of view were that we needed to keep up the regulation we had or that we had too much.

I see the financial crisis as a government failure as well as a market failure [1]. I haven't been seeing anything in the way of institutional recommendations to keep this from happening again-- it's all just "let's have honest, competent regulators with sufficient political clout, and then things will be all right". They might be better, but they won't be stably better. If you don't have checks and balances, you're way too dependent on the quality of the people in charge.

Afaik, there hasn't been progress in checks and balances (nor in thinking about them) since the Freedom of Information Act. (As always, if I've missed something, I'm pleased to find out.)

My two notions at this point is that a parlimentery system would help. If you can routinely dump your President when enough people start thinking he or she is a bad idea, rather than having the huge drama of impeachment, then you don't get excess years of goddawful leadership.

The other one is for it to become standard for much more information about investments to be publicly online. Apparently, there was quite a bit fishy about Madoff's fund, though you had to be somewhat sophisticated and not blinded by his social skills to see it. While I realize it's a lot of work for people to go over that kind of thing, some people get geeky fun out of it. And if you're right a few times, you can leverage that into an expensive investment newsletter.

[1] It was rather painful when I realized it, but I didn't think the discipline of the market was needed to keep the financial meltdown from happening. I had a background assumption that people just wouldn't neglect their businesses so badly.

I still suspect that excessively long working hours in the financial industry was part of the problem-- they make it harder to think about whether what you're doing makes sense. When I first proposed that theory, I kept getting told that everyone was just doing what local pressures required them to do. I've since found out that not everyone drank the Koolaid. And it occurs to me that the people applying the pressure also weren't getting enough time for thought and rest.

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