More power to the regulators


Isn't that the current war cry? That more power must be given to the regulators to make sure that markets won't drive us into another crazed spiral of boom and bust? That only if we hand over to the bureaucrats then children will be able to gambol happily under a shining sky and all will be well with the world?

This is such a strong current at the moment that I'm a little surprised not to have been told that regulation will make my teeth whiter as well. For there is, in this messy real world that we inhabit, a small problem with thinking that regulators will provide that pony for everyone.

Although I know I shouldn't laugh I couldn't help an involuntary snigger when perusing the background section of the report about the Icelandic economy. The MPs quoted an "expert" body from June 2007 which said at the time: "The medium-term prospects for the Icelandic economy remain enviable."......The experts in question? No less than the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which on Thursday was granted a trebling of its resources by the G20 as part of its $1.1 trillion (£750bn) economic aid package.

You see the problem there, don't you? Those that are being proferred to us as the omniscient and benevolent regulators might well be benevolent but they're certainly not omniscient. They were just as wrong as everybody else in recent years.

Well, actually, not quite just as wrong as everyone else. They were even more wrong than one particular group. The hedge funds, the short sellers. People like John Paulson. George Soros perhaps. These people did in fact get the fragility of the banks right and made a great deal of money by doing so.

Logically then we should be arguing that those who got it right sould be doing our regulating for us, not those like the IMF who got it wrong. Sadly, logic has very little to do with politics: we're banning the hedge funds from making short sales and thus removing their major method of regulating.

Ho hum....