The Great Debate UK
from The Great Debate:
-- 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.
from The Great Debate:
-- Ram Charan is the author several book, including "Leadership in the Era of Economic Uncertainty: The New Rules for Getting the Right Things Done in Difficult Times." A noted expert on business strategy, Charan has coached CEOs and helped companies like GE, Bank of America, Verizon, KLM, and Thomson shape and implement their strategic direction. The opinions expressed are his own. --
The first 100 days demand that President Barack Obama sort out his priorities and choose the ones that will help solve many others. With many constituencies and direct reports clamoring for his time and attention, he cannot attend to them all. He has to decide which of the many complex and urgent issues that have accumulated must be resolved first.