The Great Debate UK

from The Great Debate:

Lowering risks from large, complex financial institutions

-- Robert R. Bench, a former deputy Comptroller of the Currency, is a senior fellow at the Boston University School of Law Morin Center for Banking and Financial Law. The views expressed are his own. --

Financial institutions inherently are fragile.

As intermediaries, they are exposed to both exogenous and endogenous threats. The 2007-2008 financial crisis was caused by endogenous forces.  Simply, financial institutions were poorly governed, taking-on extreme liabilities and gambling them into high risk activities.  The meltdown of the financial system fed contractionary forces into the real economy, causing our "great recession," creating negative exogenous loops back into financial institutions.

The roots of the financial crisis were poor underwriting of credit.  However, the crisis happened because that credit risk was amplified through abusive underwriting, distributing, and trading of debt-backed financial instruments.  The abuse was driven by "heads I win, tails you lose" compensation schemes.  Wall Street won, Main Street lost.

Reform of the financial system requires restoring the social utility of deposit-taking institutions while eliminating the casinos within them.  The Volcker-Obama proposals move in that direction, by limiting the degree of gambling at deposit-taking companies.  In essence, Volcker-Obama addresses the very basic question: What do we want the financial institutions to do for society?  We do not want them focused on fast profits through proprietary trading.  We do want them focused on how to finance the needs of households, commerce, and governments.

The 2010 general election and new media

Photo
-

parliamentMatthew McGregor is the Director Blue State Digital’s London office. The opinions expressed are his own.

The 2010 general election will be the first closely British election in which the internet will be an important factor. The last truly close election in 1992 was fought in a way unrecognisable to campaigners today. In 1997, most of us had yet to use email. In 2005, YouTube was barely three months into its existence.

from The Great Debate:

America, terrorists and Nelson Mandela

berndforblog- Bernd Debusmann is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own -

Woe betide the organization or individual who lands on America's terrorist list. The consequences are dire and it's easier to get on the list than off it even if you turn to peaceful politics. Just ask Nelson Mandela.

One of the great statesmen of our time, Mandela stayed on the American terrorist blacklist for 15 years after winning the Nobel Prize prior to becoming South Africa's first post-Apartheid president. He was removed from the list after then president George W. Bush signed into law a bill that took the label "terrorist" off members of the African National Congress (ANC), the group that used sabotage, bombings and armed attacks against the white minority regime.

from Breakingviews:

Europe’s banks will suffer less from U.S. tax

-- Margaret Doyle and George Hay are Reuters Breakingview columnists. The opinions expressed are their own. --

European banks should suffer less than their American counterparts from the Obama administration’s proposed bank tax. The president’s proposed levy on banks’ wholesale funding requirements will hit all banks with a big presence on Wall Street. But assuming that U.S. banks will be taxed on their worldwide operations, the levy will hurt them more. This could be a major bonus for European investment banks -- as long as their own governments don’t follow suit.

from Breakingviews:

Bank liability levy may not be foolish

A levy on bank liabilities would get the industry squealing - especially if it approached $120 billion. But the Obama administration isn’t crazy to float the idea. A well-crafted tax could help recoup bailout costs while also giving banks an incentive to behave more sensibly. It doesn't have to apply just to the United States, either.

Populism aside, the main rationale for a levy is that the size of a bank's liabilities is a goodish proxy for the risk it poses to the financial system - as well as the benefit it received from the cheap money central banks doled out to offset the credit crunch. It’s reasonable that banks should pay for help from their lenders of last resort.

from The Great Debate:

American intelligence and fortune-telling

berndforblog

-- Bernd Debusmann is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own --

Hot on the heels of  what President Barack Obama called a potentially disastrous "screw-up" by the civilian intelligence community, here comes a devastating report on shortcomings of military intelligence in Afghanistan, by the officer in charge of it. He likens the work of analysts to fortune-telling.

from The Great Debate:

The Underwear Bomber and the war of ideas

- Bernd Debusmann is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own -

Who is winning the war of ideas between the West and al Qaeda's hate-driven version of  Islam?

It is a question that merits asking again after a  23-year-old Western-educated Nigerian of privileged background, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, attempted to murder almost 300 people by bringing down a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day with  explosives sewn into the crotch of his underpants.

from The Great Debate:

War and Peace, by Barack Obama

Bernd Debusmann-- Bernd Debusmann is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own. --

It is a timeline rich in irony. On Dec. 10, Barack Obama will star at a glittering ceremony in Oslo to receive the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize. That's just nine days after he ordered 30,000 additional American troops into a war many of his fellow citizens think the U.S. can neither win nor afford.

Doubts linger over Obama’s Guantanamo intentions

Photo
-

clare_algar-Clare Algar is executive director of Reprieve. The opinions expressed are her own.-

Disappointed, but not surprised, was my first response to hearing President Barack Obama’s announcement on Wednesday that he would not make the January 22 deadline for closing the prison in Guantanamo Bay.

from The Great Debate:

America’s perennial Vietnam syndrome

cfcd208495d565ef66e7dff9f98764da.jpg --  Bernd Debusmann is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own. --

Prophetic words they were not. "By God, we've kicked the Vietnam syndrome once and for all...The specter of Vietnam has been buried forever in the desert sands of the Arabian Peninsula."

  •