Friday, March 5, 2010

Reform or Refrain - What Will Become of the Push to Reform the Financial Markets

It is no secret that the financial markets have not performed at there best. The free market by default will always be on the move, sometimes up, and sometimes down.

The last few years has been a bit skewed if we go by the history of the financial markets. We have not seen performance this low since the Great Depression.

Should the government reform the financial markets and current regulatory practices?

The federal government has already stepped in and bailed out or contributed to the financial stability of most of the large financial institutions and banks who are in large part the reason for the economic down turn of the economy. Just as the the government has reasoned that they needed to step in and aid the financial institutions so to do they believe that they need to step in and take a bigger presence as a government regulatory force in the broader financial markets and financial services industry. However as one might imagine there has been some negative feedback from the financial institutions and from many politicians.

Shouldn't the government step in and play a larger role given the fact that they already have stepped in the form of financial aid to these very same institutions? Many say yes. However just the many say no. The argument and rebuttal to this proposal is that regulators and the government will have a negative impact on the markets as they will increase artificial constraints and will increase the degree of uncertainty for investors.

This seems a fair argument as regulatory bodies will make mistakes as they are only human in the end. plus there is also room for the unseen and unintended consequences that seem to always pop up when Uncle Sam gets in the way and these blunders are not easily changed if they don't work. Plus it is arguable to say that the regulatory bodies have done a mediocre job thus far in enforcing the current line up of rules and regulations that are already in place for financial markets and the business world.

On the other hand there does seem to be a obvious problem with the markets at this given point and time. Also to be fair to the regulatory bodies such as the FED and the FDIC there are some loop holes that need to be fixed so that these guys can have the control they need over non bank deposit financial institutions whom leverage up to obscene levels and add systemic risk to the downside for everybody. Such institutions are not subject to the same liquidity or capitol levels that the typical savings and loan bank is held to. Thus these guys potentially can take things to far and as of now it seems as if they have.

Given these above notions I would like to hear what people think. Should there be added regulation to the world of finance?

If yes what do you think should be done?