Tuesday, April 01, 2008


Allan H. Meltzer wrote an article (link) on regulation published in Wall Street Journal:

"The first principle of regulation is: Lawyers and politicians write rules; and markets develop ways to circumvent these rules without violating them... The financial markets offer many examples. In the 1970s, Federal Reserve Regulation Q restricted the interest rate that banks and thrifts could pay depositors. In response, the market developed money market funds that circumvented the regulation. In the late 1980s, the government set up the Resolution Trust Corporation to buy the mortgages held by failed thrifts. The result: Most of the thrift industry was eliminated and the taxpayers ended up taking a loss of about $150 billion in the early '90s ... The perennial argument of regulators is: "If only I had more power. . ." Not so. Regulators did not see the chicanery at Enron. Nor did they prevent the dot-com bubble or the Latin American debt problems in the 1980s. A main reason is "capture" -- when the interests of the regulated dominate the interests of the public."

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