The always thoughtful Barkley Rosser has been discussing the path forward from the current crisis over at Econospeak. Below are some highlights of two of his recent posts.
First, on regulation:
So, my first remark will be to urge that there be no new regulatory bodies or other bureaucracies created. What is needed are better rules and better people in the relevant positions. There may be (and already have been) changes in the powers of particular bodies, but any effort to create some new, grand oversight body will be just a waste of time and effort.
Second, on mark-to-market accounting:
In any case, banks must revalue their assets according to current market conditions, which in itself is not such a bad thing. However, the minimum capitalization rules in conjunction with this method of accounting aggravate downward spirals. If a bank’s assets decline in value, it may be forced to sell some to raise its capitalization, which has a clearly negative multiplier effect on the markets in general.
The SEC has reportedly been considering some variation of this rule. I would suport a change that has been reported to have been adopted in Germany. Banks that declare a willingness to hold onto an asset to maturity, may value it at its original face value. Thus, promises to hold certain assets to maturity takes them out of being subject to the mark to marketing rule and stabilizes their capitalization, and hopefully, the financial markets more broadly.