17 February 2016

I Would Not Expect This from Him

Neel "Cash and Carry" Kashkari, current president of the Minneapolis Bank of the Federal Reserve and former minion of Goldman "Vampire Squid" Sach, has called for a breakup of the big banks and utility style management of essential financial institutions:
What does one make of it when someone whose career has been based on having powerful friends and contacts at the top levels of the financial services industry appears to be acting as a traitor to his class? In this case, the apparent turncoat is one Neel Kashkari, ex Goldman, ex Treasury, ex Pimco employee, now the new President of the Minneapolis Fed, who in his first speech in his new job, said all sorts of unpleasant truths: the financial crisis imposed huge costs on society as a whole, Dodd Frank didn’t go far enough, the authorities won’t be willing to risk using untested new powers in a financial meltdown and will bail out banks again. He also argued that the financial system was now stable enough to make (by implication overdue) transformative changes to end the “too big to fail” problem, such as breaking up banks and regulating them like utilities. Kashkari plans to come up with a comprehensive plan by year end and is seeking public input, including having expert discussions that will be webcast.


This is the guts of Kashkari’s speech:
Now is the right time for Congress to consider going further than Dodd-Frank with bold, transformational solutions to solve this problem once and for all. The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis is launching a major initiative to develop an actionable plan to end TBTF, and we will deliver our plan to the public by the end of the year. Ultimately Congress must decide whether such a transformational restructuring of our financial system is justified in order to mitigate the ongoing risks posed by large banks.


I believe we must seriously consider bolder, transformational options. Some other Federal Reserve policymakers have noted the potential benefits to considering more transformational measures.6 I believe we must begin this work now and give serious consideration to a range of options, including the following:
  • Breaking up large banks into smaller, less connected, less important entities.
  • Turning large banks into public utilities by forcing them to hold so much capital that they virtually can’t fail (with regulation akin to that of a nuclear power plant).
  • Taxing leverage throughout the financial system to reduce systemic risks wherever they lie.
My guess is that this is an attempt to generate some perceived gravitas as a tactic to be used in bureaucratic, though much like Bernie Sanders, I find this a positive development. (Hillary Clinton is on record as not a big fan of breaking up the big banks)


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