Saturday, June 13, 2009

Regulation, again...

Well, I'm still waiting to find out just how "customized" a derivative has to be to escape regulation. So far, it sounds like the bankers will be a lot happier with the outcome than I will.

So far, a substantial majority of the derivatives that have been created have been "customized" to one extent or another -- and the bankers insist that such customization is vital to "serving the interests" of both buyers and sellers. Okay. It makes sense that different CDOs requires different terms and due dates. It makes sense that different credit default swaps will insure different levels of risk to different degrees. Swell. Go ahead and customize them.

I also understand why it might be hard to write regulations for customized derivatives -- especially since we can expect that their creators are sure to "customize" them in ways that would help them avoid any regulations Treasury might write. On the other hand, I don't understand why they can't be sold like other securities -- in an open market, with full disclosure.

The pivotal word in that last sentence, in case you didn't notice the double emphasis, is "can't." Clearly, they can be sold like other securities -- the only problem being that the profit margins of the originating banks would be sharply reduced. Well, we "can't" let that happen, now -- can we?

Hey! Obama! Yes we can!

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