A proposal to give banks, hedge funds and private equity firms “affordable” credit default swap-based insurance against market panics will be very effective: it will effectively encourage even more risk taking and turn the next crisis into one about government credit.
Global central bankers assembled at the Jackson Hole conference last week heard the proposal, by two Massachusetts Institute of Technology economists Ricardo Caballero and Pablo Kurlat. Their idea is that most of the damage in panics is due to a combination of investors overestimating the damage during a market seizure and policy-makers being too slow to pull the trigger on bailouts.
The solution, therefore, is to send the banks into the next panic ready armed with a Fed-backed get out of jail free card which the authorities can activate at a moment’s notice.
This is akin to looking at a bunch of toddlers riding motorcycles and deciding that what will really improve the situation is putting them all in crash helmets.
The proposal emphasizes “Knightian uncertainty,” which it says impairs markets during panics, as investors price in the worst about those risks which they cannot measure. Remove this uncertainty, and hey Presto, you’ve cheapened the cost of the whole bubble business.