Wednesday, April 1, 2009

G-20 Protesters Aiming at Wrong Target

And then there is the clueless.

Anti-capitalist protesters gathering in London for two days of demonstrations are missing the point. If there is one myth the credit crunch has surely exploded, it is that the financial system is a free market. The world is in a mess because the financial system was not capitalist enough.

I do believe he's serious.

True, the industry was deregulated to an extraordinary degree and politicians lost any stomach to stop excess as bubbles formed. But successive bailouts over many years also distorted the banking system to the point where real price signals were swamped. Nothing in the current global recovery proposals suggest this lesson has been learned.

He is serious.

In a capitalist system prices are set in the free market and providers of capital bear responsibility for their losses. Neither of these characteristics hold true of the banking system. The price of credit – the basic commodity of the financial system – was distorted first by implicit government guarantees to depositors and other providers of capital, and second by the tendency of governments to slash interest rates at the first sign of financial trouble.

But, is he delusional?

In a fully capitalist system, there would be no guarantees. The market would ensure banks did not become too big or too leveraged.


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