Posts Tagged ‘Volcker’

Paul Volcker is a typical Washington insider who maintains his favorable connections by endorsing bigger government. In recent months, he’s been busy supporting a value-added tax. Now he is saying that it is absolutely critical to address the deficit. Here’s and excerpt from a Bloomberg report:

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, a top outside adviser to President Barack Obama, said time is “growing short” for the U.S. to address problems ranging from its budget deficit to Social Security obligations. “We better get started,” the 82-year-old former central banker said in a speech yesterday in Stanford, California. “Today’s concerns may soon become tomorrow’s existential crises.”

This is the same Volcker, though, who defended Obama’s $800 billion so-called stimulus. And a quick Google search does not reveal any evidence that he opposed the giant fiscal sinkhole of Obamacare (I only spent five minutes searching, so I definitely feel comfortable stating that any opposition – if it existed at all – was very muted). In other words, Volcker is a typical beltway hack. When politicians are engaged in an orgy of new spending, he either supports them or stays quiet. But when the discussion turns to taxes, then suddely the deficit is the worst thing in the world and tough steps need to be taken. It would be nice if hypocrites like Volcker just dropped out of sight and played golf all day.

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As I noted a few days ago, Paulson’s bailout was the worst possible way to do a bad thing. To the extent that the government had to inject money into the financial system, I explained, it would have been far better to use the “FDIC Resolution” approach, which at least addresses the moral hazard issue by wiping out shareholders and getting rid of incompetent management. Paul Volcker made the same point in yesterday’s New York Times:

The phrase “too big to fail” has entered into our everyday vocabulary. It carries the implication that really large, complex and highly interconnected financial institutions can count on public support at critical times. The sense of public outrage over seemingly unfair treatment is palpable. Beyond the emotion, the result is to provide those institutions with a competitive advantage in their financing, in their size and in their ability to take and absorb risks. …To meet the possibility that failure of such institutions may nonetheless threaten the system, the reform proposals of the Obama administration and other governments point to the need for a new “resolution authority.” Specifically, the appropriately designated agency should be authorized to intervene in the event that a systemically critical capital market institution is on the brink of failure. The agency would assume control for the sole purpose of arranging an orderly liquidation or merger. Limited funds would be made available to maintain continuity of operations while preparing for the demise of the organization. To help facilitate that process, the concept of a “living will” has been set forth by a number of governments. Stockholders and management would not be protected. Creditors would be at risk, and would suffer to the extent that the ultimate liquidation value of the firm would fall short of its debts. To put it simply, in no sense would these capital market institutions be deemed “too big to fail.” What they would be free to do is to innovate, to trade, to speculate, to manage private pools of capital — and as ordinary businesses in a capitalist economy, to fail.

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