Baum's View on Money: Lehman in Retrospect
Good morning, dear readers. Here's a sample of the articles and commentary I’m reading to start my day.
Bigger, better, safer?
The Wall Street Journal's David Wessel weighs in with his five-years-post-crisis check list. Too Big to Fail: Banks are bigger, better capitalized, but still reliant on short-term funding. The "fail" part has yet to be tested. Regulation: More doesn't necessarily mean better. Housing: Still government-centric, which means taxpayers are at risk. Economy: Low interest rates encourage risk-taking. We'll get back to you on the outcome.
From the department of unintended consequences.
Higher capital requirements for banks, the preferred solution to protect taxpayers from absorbing losses ever again, sounds like a great idea. Even the best well-intentioned rules have unintended consequences. In this case, more capital has meant less liquidity in markets ranging from repo to Treasuries to corporate bonds. "When the big funds come in and sell there's just nobody there," one trader tells the Financial Times. The lack of liquidity can result in bigger price fluctuations. Funny how it always seems worse on the way down.
Economists of the world, unite!
Which is what they did -- behind Janet Yellen. In an open letter to President Barack Obama, public policy economists urged him to appoint Yellen to head the Federal Reserve. They highlighted three of her attributes: good judgment; a willingness to consider various points of view; and a clear understanding of the labor market. It's a long and distinguished list of signees. Obama may have to take a break from his constantly evolving Syria policy to come to the defense of Larry Summers, said to be the president's preferred choice.
Political polarization may explain it.
The Economist's Greg Ip connects the dots from the 9/11 terrorist attacks to the September 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers. From an economic standpoint, the terrorist attack had relatively little impact. The financial crisis? The U.S. is still digging out five years later. Ip says the difference is the political response. "When natural disaster strikes or an enemy attacks, a country instinctively pulls together; after a financial crisis, it often splits apart, and that can weaken, or even paralyze, policymakers," he writes. The Euro zone seems to be suffering from a variant of the disease.
Today's infographic: the U.S. labor market then and now.
(Caroline Baum is a Bloomberg View columnist. Follow her on Twitter.)