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jerryking : financial_system   26

Why further financial crises are inevitable
March 19, 2019 | Financial Times | Martin Wolf.

We learnt this month that the US Fed had decided not to raise the countercyclical capital buffer required of banks above its current level of zero, even though the US economy is at a cyclical peak. It also removed “qualitative” grades from its stress tests for American banks, though not for foreign ones. Finally, the Financial Stability Oversight Council, led by Steven Mnuchin, US Treasury secretary, removed the last insurer from its list of “too big to fail” institutions.

These decisions may not endanger the stability of the financial system. But they show that financial regulation is procyclical: it is loosened when it should be tightened and tightened when it should be loosened. We do, in fact, learn from history — and then we forget.....Regulation of banks has tightened since the financial crises of 2007-12. Capital and liquidity requirements are stricter, the “stress test” regime is quite demanding, and efforts have been made to end “too big to fail” by developing the idea of orderly “resolution” of large and complex financial institutions.....Yet complacency is unjustified. Banks remain highly leveraged institutions.....history demonstrates the procyclicality of regulation. Again and again, regulation is relaxed during a boom: indeed, the deregulation often fuels that boom. Then, when the damage has been done and disillusionment sets in, it is tightened again........We can see four reasons why this tends to happen: economic, ideological, political and merely human.

* Economic
Over time the financial system evolves. There is a tendency for risk to migrate out of the best regulated parts of the system to less well regulated parts. Even if regulators have the power and will to keep up, the financial innovation that so often accompanies this makes it hard to do so. The global financial system is complex and adaptable. It is also run by highly motivated people. It is hard for regulators to catch up with the evolution of what we now call “shadow banking”.

* Ideological
the tendency to view this complex system through a simplistic lens. The more powerful the ideology of free markets, the more the authority and power of regulators will tend to erode. Naturally, public confidence in this ideology tends to be strong in booms and weak in busts.

* Political

the financial system controls vast resources and can exert huge influence. In the 2018 US electoral cycle, finance, insurance and real estate (three intertwined sectors) were the largest contributors, covering one-seventh of the total cost. This is a superb example of Mancur Olson’s Logic of Collective Action: concentrated interests override the general one. This is much less true in times of crisis, when the public is enraged and wants to punish bankers. But it is true, again, in normal times.

Borderline or even blatant corruption also emerges: politicians may even demand a share in the wealth created in booms. Since politicians ultimately control regulators, the consequences for the latter, even if they are honest and diligent, are evident.

A significant aspect of the politics is closely linked to regulatory arbitrage: international competition. One jurisdiction tries to attract financial business via “light-touch” regulation; others then follow. This is frequently because their own financiers and financial centres complain bitterly. It is hard to resist the argument that foreigners are cheating.

* Human
There is a human tendency to dismiss long-ago events as irrelevant, to believe This Time is Different and ignore what is not under one’s nose. Much of this can be summarised as “disaster myopia”. The public gives irresponsible policymakers the benefit of the doubt and enjoys the boom. Over time, regulation degrades, as the forces against it strengthen and those in its favour corrode.

The cumulative effect of these efforts is quite clear: regulations erode and that erosion will be exported. This has happened before and will do so again. This time, too, is not different.
boom-to-bust  bubbles  collective_action  complacency  corruption  disaster_myopia  entrenched_interests  economic_downturn  financiers  financial_crises  financial_regulation  financial_system  historical_amnesia  Mancur_Olson  Martin_Wolf  policymakers  politicians  politics  procyclicality  regulatory_arbitrage  regulation  regulators  stress-tests  This_Time_is_Different  U.S._Federal_Reserve 
march 2019 by jerryking
How the 0.001% invest - Investing and the super-rich
Dec 15th 2018

Global finance is being transformed as billionaires get richer and cut out the middlemen by creating their own “family offices”, personal investment firms that roam global markets looking for opportunities. Largely unnoticed, family offices have become a force in investing, with up to $4trn of assets—more than hedge funds and equivalent to 6% of the value of the world’s stockmarkets. As they grow even bigger in an era of populism, family offices are destined to face uncomfortable questions about how they concentrate power and feed inequality......Every investment boom reflects the society that spawned it. ....The rise of family offices reflects soaring inequality......But since the financial crisis there has been a loss of faith in external money managers. Rich clients have taken a closer look at private banks’ high fees and murky incentives, and balked......Family offices’ weight in the financial system....looks likely to rise further. As it does, the objections to them will rise exponentially....that family offices have created inequality. They are a consequence, not its cause. Nonetheless, there are concerns—and one in particular that is worth worrying about: (1) The first is that family offices could endanger the stability of the financial system. (2) The second worry is that family offices could magnify the power of the wealthy over the economy.(3) that family offices might have privileged access to information, deals and tax schemes, allowing them to outperform ordinary investors.

The answer is vigilance and light. Most regulators, treasuries and tax authorities are beginners when it comes to dealing with family offices, but they need to ensure that rules on insider trading, the equal servicing of clients by dealers and parity of tax treatment are observed. And they should prod family offices with assets of over, say, $10bn to publish accounts detailing their workings. In a world that is suspicious of privilege, big family offices have an interest in boosting transparency. In return, they should be free to operate unmolested.
diversification  family_office  finance  financial_system  investing  investors  money_management  the_One_percent  upper_echelons  high_net_worth 
january 2019 by jerryking
CIBC’s Victor Dodig warns about global debt levels; urges Canada to prepare

Who/Where/Occasion: CIBC's CEO Victor Dodig, in a speech to the Empire Club

* alarm over rising global debt levels, warning that Canada needs to start preparing now for the next economic shock.
* some of the most acute threats to the global economy are beyond this country’s control, but cautioned Canadians not to get too comfortable while times are good.
* developing problems could ripple through interwoven financial markets around the world.
* “It sounds counterintuitive, but that same debt that helped the world recover is actually infusing risk into the global financial system today," ...“I think there’s a real serious global challenge of this low-interest-rate party developing a big hangover."

* clarify rules around foreign direct investment, which is falling in Canada. The main culprit is the uncertainty plaguing large business deals that require approval from Ottawa under opaque foreign-investment rules – and he cites the turmoil surrounding the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion as an example.
* more immigration to Canada, asking the government – which has already set higher immigration targets for the coming years – to open its arms even wider.
* governments and employers to work more closely with universities and colleges to match the skills graduates have to employers' needs, promoting what are known as the STEM disciplines – science, technology, engineering and math – as well as skilled trades.
* remove interprovincial trade barriers.
* allow companies to expense capital investments within one year to be more competitive with U.S. rules.

My Takeaways:
CEOs  CIBC  debt  FDI  global_economy  interconnections  interest_rates  opacity  pipelines  resilience  speeches  uncertainty  Victor_Dodig  war_for_talent  threats  beyond_one's_control  complacency  preparation  financial_system  readiness 
september 2018 by jerryking
Marty Chavez Muses on Rocky Times and the Road Ahead
NOV. 14, 2017 | - The New York Times | By WILLIAM D. COHAN.

Mr. Chavez is about as far from the stereotypical Wall Street senior executive as you can imagine, and that is one reason his musings about the future direction of Wall Street are listened to carefully.

He grew up in Albuquerque, one of five children, who all went to Harvard. He got a doctorate in medical information sciences from Stanford University. (At that time, he was known by his full name Ramon Martin Chavez.)

In 1990, Mr. Chavez came out, the day after he defended his doctoral dissertation. – “Architectures and Approximation Algorithms for Probabilistic Expert Systems.” He is one of the few openly gay executives on Wall Street. ......In his current role as Goldman's CFO, Marty views his job as a simple one that is hard to get right: “I’m not paid or evaluated on the accuracy of my crystal-ball predictions,” he said. “I’m paid to enumerate every possible outcome and do something about every possible outcome well in advance, when it’s still possible to do something, because once it’s happened it’s too late.”....Unlike many of his peers on Wall Street, Mr. Chavez does not complain about the extent of the regulation that hit the financial industry as a result of Dodd-Frank. Generally speaking, he says, the regulations have helped banks “confront their problems and capitalize and bolster their liquidity,” making them “stronger as a result,” and the financial system safer and more profitable.....Instead of complaining about the extra expense and manpower required to comply with the mountain of new regulations, Mr. Chavez chooses instead to think about it differently. “If you approach the regulations as ‘Oh, we’ve got to comply,’ you’ll get one result,” he said. He prefers thinking about the regulations as, “This makes us and the system and our clients safer and sounder, and yes it’s a lot of work, but what can we learn from this work and how can we use this work in other ways to make a better result for our shareholders and our clients? Everywhere we look we’re finding these opportunities and they’re very much in keeping with the spirit of the times.”

Like any good senior Goldman executive, he does worry. (Lloyd Blankfein, the Goldman chief executive, once told me he spent 98 percent of his time worrying about things with a 2 percent probability.)

His biggest concern at the moment is the risk of “single points of failure” in the vast world of cybersecurity. He worries about any individual “repository of information” that does not have a backup and that can “be hacked.”

He does not even trust Goldman’s own computer system; he treats it as a potential enemy.

.....What also makes Goldman different from its peers is the firm’s love affair with engineers. At the moment, he said, engineers comprise around 30 percent of Goldman’s work force of about 35,000. It’s what drew him to Goldman in the first place — to work on Goldman’s in-house software, “SecDB,” short for “Securities Database,” an internal, proprietary computer system that tracks all the trades that Goldman makes and their prices, and regularly monitors the risk that the firm faces as a result.

He said the system generates some million and a half points of data that were used to calculate, for the first time, the firm’s “liquidity coverage ratio” — now 128 percent — and that were shared with regulators every day. He’s been busy trying to figure out how the newly generated data can be used to help him understand what the firm’s liquidity will be a year from now.

That way, he said, in his principal role as Goldman’s chief financial officer, he can perceive a problem in plenty of time to do something about it. “We’re able to get much better actionable insights that make the firm a less risky business because we’re able to go much further out into the future,” he said......
actionable_information  CFOs  cyber_security  databases  Dodd-Frank  engineering  financial_system  Goldman_Sachs  improbables  information_sources  jujutsu  low_probability  Martin_Chavez  proprietary  regulation  SecDB  SPOF  think_differently  Wall_Street  William_Cohan  worrying 
november 2017 by jerryking
Pentagon Turns to High-Speed Traders to Fortify Markets Against Cyberattack
Oct. 15, 2017 7| WSJ | By Alexander Osipovich.

"What it would be like if a malicious actor wanted to cause havoc on U.S. financial markets?".....Dozens of high-speed traders and others from Wall Street are helping the Pentagon study how hackers could unleash chaos in the U.S. financial system. The Department of Defense’s research arm, DARPA, over the past year and a half has consulted executives at high-frequency trading firms and quantitative hedge funds, and people from exchanges and other financial companies, participants in the discussions said. Officials described the effort, the Financial Markets Vulnerabilities Project, as an early-stage pilot project aimed at identifying market vulnerabilities.

Among the potential scenarios: Hackers could cripple a widely used payroll system; they could inject false information into stock-data feeds, sending trading algorithms out of whack; or they could flood the stock market with fake sell orders and trigger a market crash......Among potential targets that could appeal to hackers given their broad reach are credit-card companies, payment processors and payroll companies such as ADP, which handles the paychecks for one in six U.S. workers, participants said.....The goal of Darpa’s project is to develop a simulation of U.S. markets, which could be used to test scenarios, Such software would need to model complex, interrelated markets—not just stocks but also markets such as futures—as well as the behavior of automated trading systems operating within them....Many quantitative trading firms already do something similar.......
In 2009, military experts took part in a two-day war game exploring a “global financial war” involving China and Russia, according to “Currency Wars: The Making of the Next Global Crisis,” a 2011 book by James Rickards. ....“Our charge at Darpa is to think far out,” he said. “It’s not ‘What is the attack today?’ but ‘What are the vectors of attack 20 years from now?’”
Pentagon  financial_markets  financial_system  vulnerabilities  DARPA  traders  hedge_funds  Wall_Street  hackers  books  rogue_actors  scenario-planning  cyber_security  cyber_warfare  cyberattacks  high-frequency_trading  pilot_programs  contagions 
october 2017 by jerryking
SEC Chief Wants Investors to Better Understand Cyberrisk - WSJ
Sept. 5, 2017 | WSJ | By Dave Michaels.

The chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission said Tuesday that regulators and Wall Street need to do more to educate investors about the serious risks that companies and the financial system face from cyberintrusions.

Jay Clayton, speaking at an event sponsored by New York University’s School of Law, said investors still don’t fully appreciate the threat posed by hackers. “I am not comfortable that the American investing public understands the substantial risk that we face systemically from cyber issues and I would like to see better disclosure around that,” Mr. Clayton said.
SEC  cyber_security  cyberthreats  cyberrisks  risks  hackers  cyberintrusions  regulators  Wall_Street  data_breaches  disclosure  under_appreciated  financial_system 
september 2017 by jerryking
Keeping America's Edge
Winter 2010 | National Affairs | Jim Manzi.

.....One of the most painful things about markets is that they often make fools of our fathers: Sharp operators with an eye for trends often outperform those who carefully learn a trade and continue a tradition. ...First, To begin with, we must unwind some recent errors that fail to take account of these circumstances. Most obviously, government ownership of industrial assets is almost a guarantee that the painful decisions required for international competitiveness will not be made. When it comes to the auto industry, for instance, we need to take the loss and move on. As soon as possible, the government should announce a structured program to sell off the equity it holds in GM. ....Second, the financial crisis has demonstrated obvious systemic problems of poor regulation and under-regulation of some aspects of the financial sector that must be addressed — though for at least a decade prior to the crisis, over-regulation, lawsuits, and aggressive government prosecution seriously damaged the competitiveness of other parts of America's financial system ........Regulation to avoid systemic risk must therefore proceed from a clear understanding of its causes. In the recent crisis, the reason the government has been forced to prop up financial institutions isn't that they are too big to fail, but rather that they are too interconnected to fail......we should therefore adopt a modernized version of a New Deal-era ­innovation: focus on creating walls that contain busts, rather than on applying brakes that hold back the entire system.....Third, over the coming decades, we should seek to deregulate public schools. .....We should pursue the creation of a real marketplace among ever more deregulated publicly financed schools — a market in which funding follows students, and far broader discretion is permitted to those who actually teach and manage in our schools. There are real-world examples of such systems that work well today — both Sweden and the Netherlands, for instance, have implemented this kind of plan at the national level......Fourth, we should reconceptualize immigration as recruiting. Assimilating immigrants is a demonstrated core capability of America's political economy — and it is one we should take advantage of. ....think of immigration as an opportunity to improve our stock of human capital. Once we have re-established control of our southern border, and as we preserve our commitment to political asylum, we should also set up recruiting offices looking for the best possible talent everywhere: from Mexico City to Beijing to Helsinki to Calcutta. Australia and Canada have demonstrated the practicality of skills-based immigration policies for many years. We should improve upon their example by using testing and other methods to apply a basic tenet of all human capital-intensive organizations managing for the long term: Always pick talent over skill. It would be great for America as a whole to have, say, 500,000 smart, motivated people move here each year with the intention of becoming citizens.
social_cohesion  innovation  human_capital  Jim_Manzi  immigration  recruiting  interconnections  too_big_to_fail  economic_downturn  innovation_policies  outperformance  capitalization  human_potential  financial_system  regulation  under-regulation  too_interconnected_to_fail  systemic_risks  talent  skills 
august 2017 by jerryking
Zbigniew Brzezinski, National Security Adviser to Jimmy Carter, Dies at 89
MAY 26, 2017 | The New York Times | By DANIEL LEWIS.

Zbigniew Brzezinski, the hawkish strategic theorist who was national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter in the tumultuous years of the Iran hostage crisis and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the late 1970s, died on Friday. He was 89.

His death was announced on Friday by his daughter, Mika Brzezinski, a co-host of the MSNBC program “Morning Joe.”

Like his predecessor Henry A. Kissinger, Mr. Brzezinski was a foreign-born scholar (he in Poland, Mr. Kissinger in Germany) with considerable influence in global affairs, both before and long after his official tour of duty in the White House....
......In 2012 [Brzezinski] once again assessed the United States’ global standing in “Strategic Vision: America and the Crisis of Global Power.” Here he argued that continued American strength abroad was vital to global stability, but that it would depend on the country’s ability to foster “social consensus and democratic stability” at home.

Essential to those goals, he wrote, would be a narrowing of the yawning income gap between the wealthiest and the rest, a restructuring of the financial system so that it no longer mainly benefited “greedy Wall Street speculators” and a meaningful response to climate change.......A United States in decline, he said — one “unwilling or unable to protect states it once considered, for national interest and/or doctrinal reasons, worthy of its engagement” — could lead to a “protracted phase of rather inconclusive and somewhat chaotic realignments of both global and regional power, with no grand winners and many more losers.”
Zbigniew_Brzezinski  financial_system  Jimmy_Carter  '70s  obituaries  security_&_intelligence  U.S.foreign_policy  PhDs  APNSA 
may 2017 by jerryking
‘An Anthropologist on Wall Street’ — Cultural Anthropology
Tett, Gillian. "‘An Anthropologist on Wall Street’." Theorizing the Contemporary, Cultural Anthropology website, May 16, 2012.

Anthropology can be extremely useful for understanding the contemporary financial world because of all the micro-level communities—or ‘tribes’ to use the cliché term—that are cropping up around the financial system....The event pulled together bankers from all over. They staged formalized rituals with PowerPoint presentations, but also engaged in informal rituals like chitchat in the wings.

As they came together and talked, these bankers were creating a network of ties. But they were also inventing a new language they felt made them distinctive from everyone else. The way they talked about credit was to emphasize the numbers and to quite deliberately exclude any mention of social interaction from the debate and discussion. In the first couple of days I sat there, they almost never mentioned the human borrower who was at the end of that securitization chain. They were also very exclusive. There was a sense that ‘we alone have mastery over this knowledge’....Part two of the CDO gospel was that bankers had had this sudden inspiration that they should stop concentrating credit risk and find ways to scatter it across the system....Looking back there were many elements of securitization that were evidently flawed. The tools bankers were using to disburse risk across the system were themselves very opaque and complex. The very way by which they disbursed risk was actually introducing new risk into the system.......fundamental contradiction at the very heart of the system that almost nobody spotted. Why not? To put it crudely, because there were too few anthropologists, using basic anthropological techniques, trying to understand what was going on. Having an anthropological perspective is very useful. The very nature of anthropology is to try to connect up the dots. That’s something that most modern bureaucrats, most bankers, and most company executives are not able to do, precisely because they’re so darn busy running around in their silos.
Wall_Street  Gillian_Tett  anthropologists  financial_system  securitization  finance  ethnographic  insights  CDOs  connecting_the_dots  cultural_anthropology  anthropology  tribes  silo_mentality 
march 2017 by jerryking
Unnatural calm sparks visions of a 'Minsky Moment'
31 December/1 January 2017 | Financial Times | John Authers.

Argues that it is bad news that volatility on financial markets has dropped to an all-time low as measured on the CBOE's Vix index. Economist Hyman Minsky postulated that capitalist financial systems were inherently unstable, and that stability begat instability. As markets grow calmer and bankers more confident, lending steadily rises until it is out of control. The "Minsky Moment" occurs when investors realize that they have paid far too much for the credits that have bought, no buyers can be found, and the system collapses. Aka Wile E. Coyote running-off-a-cliff....The greatest dangers to us are not from things we perceive to be high-risk, because we generally treat them carefully. Trouble arises from that which we perceive to be low-risk.
instability  Vix  indices  volatility  economists  financial_system  risk-assessment  warning_signs  complacency  dangers  high-risk  low-risk  fear  bad_news 
january 2017 by jerryking
Software as Weaponry in a Computer-Connected World - The New York Times

On average, there are 15 to 50 defects per 1,000 lines of code in delivered software, according to Steve McConnell, the author of “Code Complete.” Today, most of the applications we rely on — Google Chrome, Microsoft, Firefox and Android — contain millions of lines of code. And the complexity of technology is increasing, and with it the potential for defects.

The motivation to find exploitable defects in widely used code has never been higher. Governments big and small are stockpiling vulnerabilities and exploits in hardware, software, applications, algorithms and even security defenses like firewalls and antivirus software.

They are using these holes to monitor their perceived enemies, and many governments are storing them for a rainy day, when they might just have to drop a payload that disrupts or degrades an adversary’s transportation, energy or financial system.

They are willing to pay anyone who can find and exploit these weaknesses top dollar to hand them over, and never speak a word to the companies whose programmers inadvertently wrote them into software in the first place.
adversaries  software  hackers  books  coding  vulnerabilities  exploits  software_bugs  bounties  black_markets  arms_race  cyber_warfare  cyber_security  Stuxnet  espionage  Iran  security_&_intelligence  malware  cyberweapons  weaponry  stockpiles  financial_system 
june 2016 by jerryking
One Firm Getting What It Wants in Washington: BlackRock - WSJ
Updated April 20, 2016

The Problem: BlackRock believed that the U.S. Federal Reserve was leaning towards designating it as a source of financial system risk, like other big banks, and as such, be “too big to fail”.

What Was At Stake: the designation “systemically important” would draw BlackRock in for greater oversight by the Federal Reserve which would mean tougher rules and potentially higher capital requirements from U.S. regulators.

The Solution: BlackRock didn't take any chances. The company began spending heavily on lobbying and engaging policymakers. Executives at the firm began preparing for greater federal scrutiny of their business in the months following the 2008 financial crisis. BlackRock aggressively prepared a counter-narrative upon discovered a Treasury Department’s Office of Financial Research report that asset-management firms and the funds they run were “vulnerable to shocks” and may engage in “herding” behavior that could amplify a shock to the financial system. The response took the form of a 40-plus-page paper rebutting the report. The firm suggested that instead of focusing on the size of a manager or fund, regulators should look at what specific practices, such as the use of leverage, might be the source of risks. While other money managers such as Fidelity and Vanguard sought to evade being labeled systemically important, BlackRock’s strategy stood out.
BlackRock  crony_capitalism  Washington_D.C.  risks  lobbying  too_big_to_fail  asset_management  advocacy  government_relations  influence  political_advocacy  policy  U.S._Federal_Reserve  systemic_risks  Communicating_&_Connecting  U.S.Treasury_Department  counternarratives  oversight  financial_system  leverage  debt  creating_valuable_content  think_differently  policymakers  policymaking 
april 2016 by jerryking
Technology will hurt the banks, not kill them
October 15, 2014 | |John Gapper

Does Silicon Valley really want to blow up retail banking and create an entirely new financial system, or would it prefer to ride on the existing one?...Mr Andreessen, a partner of the venture fund Andreessen Horowitz, added in an interview with Bloomberg Markets magazine last week: “To me, it’s all about unbundling the banks. There are regulatory arbitrage opportunities every step of the way. If the regulators are going to regulate banks, then you’ll have non-bank entities that spring up to do the things that banks can’t do.”...There is no doubt that the infrastructure of retail banks is antiquated, and is built in a way that invites competition from peer-to-peer networks. Nor is there a doubt that banks make themselves vulnerable by how they price – offering core deposit services cheaply or free while squeezing customers on ancillary products such as overdrafts and currency exchange....what is the best way to compete with an industry that makes little from a capital-intensive, regulated service with formidable barriers to entry, and a lot from less protected add-ons? The question answers itself, which is why Silicon Valley focuses on payments while talking about disrupting lending....US laws made it impossible to establish a national credit union open to any customer....One growth area in UK finance has been online payday lending by companies such as Wonga, which promised to extend banking to the underserved. ... tech companies can improve on credit scoring by scanning search histories and social network data...The biggest barrier to competition is that the core business of taking in deposits and keeping them safe is not very profitable in a low-interest world....A start-up bank that has no branches and spends less on patching up legacy software might do this more efficiently – and good luck to those that penetrate the regulatory thicket and try. But it is much less risky to attach a new service to the existing banking infrastructure, and it absorbs less capital....Technology may eventually change the infrastructure of banking but it will not happen soon....“is a long-term threat that will play out over decades, not months or years”...Silicon Valley will compete at the edges, where banks make their best profits.
banks  Silicon_Valley  Marc_Andreessen  Andreessen_Horowitz  disruption  fin-tech  start_ups  Bitcoin  financial_services  underserved  unbanked  regulators  P2P  payday_lending  credit_scoring  low-interest  branchless  capital-intensity  legacy_tech  regulatory_arbitrage  financial_system 
october 2014 by jerryking
Minorities possible unfairly disqualified from opening bank accounts | mathbabe
August 7, 2013 Cathy O'Neil,

New York State attorney general Eric T. Schneiderman’s investigation into possibly unfair practices by big banks using opaque and sometimes erroneous databases to disqualify people from opening accounts.

Not much hard information is given in the article but we know that negative reports stemming from the databases have effectively banished more than a million lower-income Americans from the financial system, and we know that the number of “underbanked” people in this country has grown by 10% since 2009. Underbanked people are people who are shut out of the normal banking system and have to rely on the underbelly system including check cashing stores and payday lenders....The second, more interesting point – at least to me – is this. We care about and defend ourselves from our constitutional rights being taken away but we have much less energy to defend ourselves against good things not happening to us.

In other words, it’s not written into the constitution that we all deserve a good checking account, nor a good college education, nor good terms on a mortgage, and so on. Even so, in a large society such as ours, such things are basic ingredients for a comfortable existence. Yet these services are rare if not nonexistent for a huge and swelling part of our society, resulting in a degradation of opportunity for the poor.

The overall effect is heinous, and at some point does seem to rise to the level of a constitutional right to opportunity, but I’m no lawyer.

In other words, instead of only worrying about the truly bad things that might happen to our vulnerable citizens, I personally spend just as much time worrying about the good things that might not happen to our vulnerable citizens, because from my perspective lots of good things not happening add up to bad things happening: they all narrow future options.
visible_minorities  discrimination  data  data_scientists  banks  banking  unbanked  equality  equality_of_opportunity  financial_system  constitutional_rights  payday_lenders  Cathy_O’Neil  optionality  opportunity_gaps  low-income 
december 2013 by jerryking
The FDIC's Sheila Bair: Going bare-knuckled against Wall Street - The Globe and Mail
Jun. 22 2013 | The Globe and Mail | KEVIN CARMICHAEL.

Deposit insurance agencies are vital to the smooth functioning of the financial system. Without them, banks would face cascading withdrawals at the first whisper of trouble. Yet within the constellation of financial regulators, deposit insurance agencies are more like Mars or Venus, dominated by the Jupiter-like presences of the finance ministries, central banks and securities commissions....Sherrod Brown and David Vitter, Democratic and Republican senators respectively, have co-sponsored legislation that would force the biggest banks to hold equity equal to 15 per cent of assets, which is much more onerous than current law. An idea that Ms. Bair long has advocated as a way to make the biggest banks less risky – forcing them to hold higher levels of long-term debt – is catching on with policy makers.....How did it get so bad? Ms. Bair has a theory. Over eggs and oatmeal in December, she explained what it was like to be on Capitol Hill in the 1980s, when Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill, the Democratic speaker of the House of Representatives, made an agreement to overhaul the tax code. That generation of leaders was influenced by the Second World War; many had fought in it. Such experience teaches you to “put country first,” Ms. Bair says. “We’re the pampered Baby Boom generation. We’re not willing to make the sacrifices as much as our parents were.”
too_big_to_fail  FDIC  financial_system  Sheila_Bair  profile  women  Wall_Street  WWII  the_Greatest_Generation  regulators  sacrifice  baby_boomers  Kevin_Carmichael  shared_experiences  shared_consciousness  policymaking  tax_codes 
june 2013 by jerryking
If You Were the Next Steve Jobs...
September 3, 2012 | Harvard Business Review | by Umair Haque.

Imagine, for a moment, that you (yes, you) were the next Steve Jobs: what would your (real) challenges be? I'd bet they wouldn't be scale (just call FoxConn), efficiency (call FoxConn's consultants), short-term profitability (call FoxConn's consultants' bankers), or even "growth" (call FoxConn's consultants' bankers' lobbyists). Those are the problems of yesterday — and today, here's the thing: we largely know how to solve them.

Whether you're an assiduous manager, a chin-stroking economist, a superstar footballer, or a rumpled artist, here's the unshakeable fact: you don't get to tomorrow by solving yesterday's problems.

To solve today's set of burning problems, you just might have to build new institutions, capable of handling stuff a little something like this...
Singularity. Scale is a solved problem. We know how to do stuff at very, very large scale — if by stuff you mean "churning out the same widget, a billion times over". What we don't know how to do is the opposite of scaling up: scaling down an institution, to make a difference to a human life.
Sociality - something resembling the advanced dating stage of the courtship ritual.
Spontaneity - the act of human potential unfurling in the moment — and if it's human potential you wish to ignite, then it's spontaneity you need to spark.
what distinguishes organizations that achieve enduring greatness is teamwork and collaboration — and those are words so overused, they make my teeth ache just saying them. Here's my bet: it's time to drop the fourth wall of the "team" — and go beyond collaboration, to something like what Jung called synchronicity: a kind of uncanny intersection of seemingly unrelated lives.
Solubility. But the biggest lesson — and the one hidden in plain sight — is this: creating institutions capable of not just solving the same old problems, forever.... the greatest challenge for tomorrow's would-be problem-solver renegades is this: building institutions that don't keep solving the same old solved problems, like profitability, scale, efficiency, productivity, and the like. Over and over again, like algorithms of human organization run amok. Institutions that are capable of taking a hard look at unsolved problems around the globe — as big as climate change, sending humans to Mars, and redesigning the global financial system, and as small as Umair's perfect coffee — and then accepting the difficult, often painful, always fulfilling, work of attempting to solve them.
living_in_the_moment  creativity  Steve_Jobs  HBR  problems  problem_solving  umairhaque  political_infrastructure  ideas  value_creation  wealth_creation  threats  scaling  institutions  spontaneity  human_potential  superstars  financial_system 
february 2013 by jerryking
ICE Has Expanded Aggressively -
December 20, 2012 | WSJ | By LESLIE JOSEPHS And JACOB BUNGE.

In 2008, as the credit crisis revealed risks lurking in off-exchange markets for byzantine derivatives such as credit-default swaps, ICE struck a deal with a consortium of banks to form a clearinghouse to back up credit derivatives. The move anticipated regulators' mandate to clear such contracts to reduce systemic risk represented to the broader financial system.
bourses  commodities  derivatives  financial_system  clearinghouses  futures_markets  IntercontinentalExchange 
december 2012 by jerryking
Risky Business -
April 24, 2003 | WSJ |By STAN O'NEAL.

Historically, investors' trust in the markets has been well founded because enterprising people have been willing to take risks. Backed by venture capital, entrepreneurs create value, employment, wealth, and opportunities. Without risk, there would be no electricity, no personal computers, no vaccines. No GE, no IBM, no Pfizer.

Of course, in any system predicated on risk-taking, there are failures, sometimes spectacular failures. But for every failure to be viewed as fraudulent or even criminal bodes ill for our economic system. The message to CEOs, to entrepreneurs and to venture capitalists right now is that you cannot afford to be wrong.

In the aftermath of history's greatest market bubble, this backlash against risk is understandable. Excesses in the system were taken to incredible levels. And while our industry did not create the bubble, it also did not bathe itself in glory recognizing or resisting those excesses.

But if we attempt to eliminate risk -- to legislate, regulate, or litigate it out of existence -- the ultimate result will be economic stagnation, perhaps even economic failure. To teach investors that they should be insulated from these forces, that if they lose money in the market they're automatically entitled to be compensated for it does both them and the economy a disservice.

In my view, the great, historical contribution of American capitalism is its ability to create value. Even when the system works imperfectly, value is created. If our financial system is to retain this particular genius, we need to be willing to continue to innovate. If we fail to rebalance the forces of risk and reward, the greatest danger may be deflation. Not probable, but not impossible either.
capitalism  Merrill_Lynch  CEOs  risks  Stanley_O'Neal  economic_stagnation  financial_system  overregulation  imperfections  value_creation  risk-taking  moral_hazards  backlash  innovation  deflation 
june 2012 by jerryking
Lunch with the FT: Zbigniew Brzezinski
January 13, 2012 | | By Edward Luce.

Strategic Vision: America and the Crisis of Global Power.

“We [Americans] are too obsessed with today,” Brzezinski continues. “If we slide into a pattern of just thinking about today, we’ll end up reacting to yesterday instead of shaping something more constructive in the world.” By contrast, he says, the Chinese are thinking decades ahead. Alas, Brzezinski says, Obama has so far failed to move into a strategic habit of mind. To a far greater extent than the Chinese, he concedes, Obama has to respond to shifts in public mood. Brzezinski is not very complimentary about American public opinion.

“Americans don’t learn about the world, they don’t study world history, other than American history in a very one-sided fashion, and they don’t study geography,” Brzezinski says. “In that context of widespread ignorance, the ongoing and deliberately fanned fear about the outside world, which is connected with this grandiose war on jihadi terrorism, makes the American public extremely susceptible to extremist appeals.” But surely most Americans are tired of overseas adventures, I say. “There is more scepticism,” Brzezinski concedes. “But the susceptibility to demagoguery is still there.”....Brzezinski lists "Ignorance", as one of America’s six “key vulnerabilities” alongside “mounting debt’, a “flawed financial system”, “decaying national infrastructure”, “widening income inequality”, and “increasingly gridlocked politics”.
Zbigniew_Brzezinski  security_&_intelligence  strategic_thinking  China_rising  China  diplomacy  princelings  America_in_Decline?  threats  vulnerabilities  infrastructure  income_inequality  debt  political_polarization  long-term  partisan_politics  fractured_internally  NSC  ignorance  public_opinion  books  Chinese  instant_gratification  demagoguery  APNSA  gridlocked_politics  Edward_Luce  incurious  financial_system  historical_amnesia 
january 2012 by jerryking
Michael Lewis’s ‘The Big Short’? Read the Harvard Thesis Instead! - Deal Journal - WSJ
March 15, 2010 | WSJ | By Peter Lattman.

Back at Harvard, against the backdrop of the financial system’s near-total collapse, Barnett-Hart approached professors with an idea of writing a thesis about CDOs and their role in the crisis. “Everyone discouraged me because they said I’d never be able to find the data,” she said. “I was urged to do something more narrow, more focused, more knowable. That made me more determined.”

She emailed scores of Harvard alumni. One pointed her toward LehmanLive, a comprehensive database on CDOs. She received scores of other data leads. She began putting together charts and visuals, holding off on analysis until she began to see patterns–how Merrill Lynch and Citigroup were the top originators, how collateral became heavily concentrated in subprime mortgages and other CDOs, how the credit ratings procedures were flawed, etc.

“If you just randomly start regressing everything, you can end up doing an unlimited amount of regressions,” she said, rolling her eyes. She says nearly all the work was in the research; once completed, she jammed out the paper in a couple of weeks.
financial_system  Michael_Lewis  economics  Harvard  Colleges_&_Universities  students  thesis  CDOs  data  patterns  Wall_Street  investment_banking  women  Philip_Mudd  economic_downturn  linear_regression  finance  crisis 
march 2011 by jerryking
Volcker Spares No One in Broad Critique - Real Time Economics - WSJ
September 23, 2010 | Wall Street Journal | By Damian Paletta.
Former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker scrapped a prepared speech
he had planned to deliver at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago on
Thursday, and instead delivered a blistering, off-the-cuff critique
leveled at nearly every corner of the financial system.
cri_de_coeur  financial_system  Paul_Volcker  U.S._Federal_Reserve 
september 2010 by jerryking
Messy Times for Ben Bernanke and the Fed -
May 14, 2010 | New York Times | By SEWELL CHAN. "we had neither
the mandate nor the tools to be the financial system’s supercop. "
Notes: (1) read “The Great Contraction, 1929-1933,” in which Milton
Friedman and Anna Jacobson Schwartz blamed the Fed’s failure to expand
the money supply for the Depression’s severity and duration. (2)
“Because I appreciate the role of chance and contingency in human
events, I try to be appropriately realistic about my own capabilities. I
know there is much that I don’t know.”

— Ben S. Bernanke, May 22, 2009
(3) “Keep a ‘gratitude journal,’ in which you routinely list
experiences and circumstances for which you are grateful.”

— Ben S. Bernanke, May 8, 2010
economists  Benjamin_Bernanke  U.S._Federal_Reserve  gratitude  messiness  pretense_of_knowledge  Great_Depression  Milton_Friedman  humility  unknowns  chance  luck  contingency  books  economics  economic_history  financial_system  frequency_and_severity 
may 2010 by jerryking
‘It’s a punctuation point in history’ - The Globe and Mail
May. 26, 2009 | Globe & Mail | moderated by Noel Hulsman,
special reports editor for Report on Business. Roundtable panel
exploring ways of moving the economy forward with regards to leadership,
restoring trust to the financial system and new opportunities. Panel
includes Pierre Pettigrew, former Minister of Foreign Affairs and former
vice-president of Samson Belair/Deloitte & Touche International;
Don Tapscott, chairman of business think tank nGenera Insight and author
of Grown Up Digital: How the Net Generation is Changing Your World ;
Doug Steiner, chairman and CEO of Perimeter Financial Corp.; and
Jennifer White, entrepreneur-in-residence at MaRS Discovery District.
panels  economic_downturn  leadership  opportunities  financial_institutions  financial_system  Doug_Steiner  panel_moderation 
june 2009 by jerryking
Hezbollah as 'a hot cell for innovation'Why our intentions 'don't just fail, they backfire'
Apr 19, 2009 | Toronto Star | Lynda Hurst.

we're still using anachronistic ideas to hold together a global order that no longer exists. A revolution is in progress where the unthinkable all too readily becomes the inevitable.

The result? More – and more dangerous – reversals of intent and outcome.

"What's happening today is that our intentions don't just fail, they backfire on us," says the Beijing-based geo-strategy analyst. "We deliver the opposite of what we intend because we so misunderstand the way the system now works."

The "war on terrorism" creates even more terrorists. The attempt to build a risk-proof financial system produces more risks than anyone is able to foresee. The bid to spread capitalism across the globe widens the chasm between rich and poor. The effort to contain nuclear proliferation leads to rogue states such as North Korea and Iran playing gimme-gimme games (or maybe not) with the final option.

Think Mikhail Gorbachev setting out only to reform the Soviet Union, but instead triggering its downfall, which in turn leads the U.S. to conclude its values have won the Cold War. Not so, Ramo says. Or George W. Bush reckoning he can inject democracy into Iraq and, presto, out comes peace: "Absurd in the extreme."

The new rules are
still being formed. They will be based on one central premise: countless
variations in the scheme of things will continue to occur at warp
speed, and adapting to them equally as quickly will be crucial. The
unpredictable demands of constant newness can immobilize institutions,
however, not just individuals. It can blind them to unsprung traps,
freeze once-honed navigation skills. The structure of the U.S. State
Department has barely changed since the end of World War II.

Governments can't prepare for everything in the future, but they can
build resilience into their systems. Real power will be the ability to
come back strong after an unexpected shock. That will mean persistently
assessing the big picture, not just its component pieces.
new_normal  uncertainty  Joshua_Cooper_Ramo  geopolitics  unpredictability  resilience  21st._century  adaptability  managing_uncertainty  Hezbollah  unintended_consequences  unexpected  political_power  accelerated_lifecycles  U.S._State_Department  immobilize  paralyze  constant_change  revenge_effects  rogue_actors  unthinkable  misunderstandings  Cambrian_explosion  iterations  Octothorpe_Software  Mikhail_Gorbachev  the_big_picture  warp_speed  financial_system 
may 2009 by jerryking
Preparing for the Next Crisis: Preventing the Next Fire While This One Blazes
MARCH 12, 2009 WSJ column by by DAVID WESSEL. Identifies some
fundamental questions that should be addressed as officials think
through improvements to the financial regulatory framework.

Preventing all future crises is not the goal. That would be the equivalent of banning stoves and furnaces: We'd have fewer destructive fires but we'd be cold and miserable. The goal is to prevent mishaps from burning down the world economy. Here are three of the threshold questions that need pondering:

(1) Who shall be saved, and who shall be allowed to die?

(2) How paternalistic should regulation be, and who should be the parent?

(3) Can we install air bags in the financial system that deploy automatically?
financial_institutions  frameworks  regulation  David_Wessel  hard_choices  think_threes  financial_system  regulators  questions  crisis  preparation  circuit_breakers  hard_questions 
march 2009 by jerryking

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