We Know That We’re the Good Guys

by Norman Horowitz

There was a nameless black and white movie I remember from the forties where two inebriated men go the roof of their apartment building to shoot fireworks at each other on the Fourth of July. One of the men says to the other “Okay, you be the bad guys and I’ll be the good guys.” The other man replies, “Why do I always need to be the bad guys?” The response was: “Because I always need to be the good guys.”

Like most Americans, I’m pleased that we have “eliminated” Osama bin Laden. However, it got me to thinking: Why does everyone else “have to be the bad guys”? I answer myself that is because “we need to be the good guys.”   Continue reading “We Know That We’re the Good Guys”

Economists Come Around to What I’ve Said All Along

Me, May 2010:

If you’re going to have one central bank, you need a vehicle other than monetary policy to relieve regional disparities.

Paul Krugman, January 2011:

[Making] the euro work is more feasible than I used to think. True American-style labor market integration isn’t…going to happen. But more fiscal integration could.

Now let’s see how long it takes them to admit my other conclusion:

You need to design the system so it has time to adapt to isolated changes without a negative ripple effect.

Economists Oliver Hart and Luigi Zingales have proposed a regulatory system that anticipates banks’ distress based on their credit default swap prices and restructures their debt before bondholders are in panic mode. In 2001, U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill proposed an international bankruptcy court that could serve the same purpose for sovereign debt.

The global economy is wound pretty tightly these days. Maybe it’s time to make it a little safer for the occasional error.

Making the World Safe for Finance

I promised you my take on Greece, and my take you shall have. Here’s my latest post on the Sun-Sentinel blog. It continues my work building up to a coherent framework (and hopefully a book) on international law. If you’re interested in learning more about tight coupling in financial markets, check out Richard Bookstaber’s A Demon of Our Own Design: Markets, Hedge Funds, and the Perils of Financial Innovation. If you’ve been following our “Best of the Week” series, you should be very familiar with the Hart/Zingales proposal; I’ve linked to it several times. Here’s the most recent reference. As always, before you do any of that, don’t forget to check out my post.