Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Where the Courage to Reform is Lacking

The "hey we're missing the shadow banking market in all these reforms" meme is spreading. I like that, after my Jan. 24 post where I bemoaned the lack of attention to the 900-lb. gorilla in the room (or however much that mythical gorilla weighs). Marginal Revolution weighs in here. Mike Konczal at Rortybomb did his usual excellent calmly reasoned and thorough analysis here. And we got a superb Venn diagram by Raj Date (never thought you'd see one of them again after eighth grade -- guess again; check out page 3!) that reveals shadow banking to be the poop that's left unscooped in the proposed financial reforms.

So where is the courage to reform lacking?

Simply: we don't like pain (our politicians, our mirror images of the worst of ourselves, have all along taken the pain-avoidance steps in dealing with the financial crisis). Shadow banking is a means of leveraging up the financial system. Leverage provides the palliative of easy money (along with that extra risk). I'm betting Washington will leave the shadow banking/leverage mess untouched; who wants to prescribe two tablets of austerity for a hungover economy, even if it's good for overall future stability? We're a "now" people, impatient to have what we want, and cranky when we don't get it quickly.

Ah ...

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