Saturday, May 17, 2008

Crashing the system II

I'm happy to see (via M. Thoma) that those who are crashing the systems are at least not making quite as much money.

Change is in the air for financial superclass, by David Rothkopf, Commentary, Financial Times: ...The re-engineering of international finance has been one of the transformational trends of our times – in just a quarter-century, capital flows became massive, instantaneous and controlled by a new breed of traders representing a handful of major financial institutions from a few countries. Their rewards have transcended any in history as shown by an estimate ... that the top hedge fund manager last year made $3bn.

The concentration of power has also steadily grown..., the key executives are in the US and Europe, underscoring the transatlantic nature of this elite. Change, however, is in the air. The history of elites is one of their rising up, over-reaching, being reined in and supplanted by a new elite. Several recent developments suggest that the financial crisis could signal the high-water mark of power for this group.

First, the crisis is prompting a re-regulatory drive. The power of financial elites had been evident in their ability to argue that global financial markets and markets in new securities should remain “self-regulating” (how many of them would hop into a self-regulating taxicab?), then when crisis comes ... these champions of less government involvement have then persuaded governments to cauterise their wounds.

Now, however, there are encouraging, if preliminary, signs of a push towards more effective collaboration between governments – the first steps towards creating the much needed checks on global markets... This could erode the agility of financial elites to play governments off against each other, with the weakest regulator setting the rules.

Checks on markets? Gosh, I wish someone had thought about that before.