"It is easy to confuse what is with what ought to be, especially when what is has worked out in your favor."
- Tyrion Lannister

"Lannister. Baratheon. Stark. Tyrell. They're all just spokes on a wheel. This one's on top, then that's ones on top and on and on it spins, crushing those on the ground. I'm not going to stop the wheel. I'm going to break the wheel."

- Daenerys Targaryen


"The Lord of Light wants his enemies burned. The Drowned God wants them drowned. Why are all the gods such vicious cunts? Where's the God of Tits and Wine?"

- Tyrion Lannister


"The common people pray for rain, healthy children, and a summer that never ends. It is no matter to them if the high lords play their game of thrones, so long as they are left in peace. They never are."

- Jorah Mormont


"These bad people are what I'm good at. Out talking them. Out thinking them."

- Tyrion Lannister


"What happened? I think fundamentals were trumped by mechanics and, to a lesser extent, by demographics."

- Michael Barone

"If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to."
- Dorothy Parker

Thursday, December 08, 2011

The last time I blogged on this subject, our astute commenter Bennett Haselton raised a very good question: Bear Stearns is presumably not just sitting on Fidelity’s money; they’re investing it somewhere. Why can’t that investment serve as Fidelity’s collateral? The answer, if I understand Gorton correctly, is that the repo market is a very short-term market, typically 24 hours. For Fidelity to verify the quality of Bear Stearn’s investment project would take a week or so, by which time it’s too late for the information to be of any use. Fidelity’s ongoing concern is that Bear Stearns is pawning off its shakiest investments; to allay that concern requires due diligence; due diligence takes time; the repo market is all about getting things done NOW.

So what should we do about all this? Gorton, along with his colleague Andrew Metrick, argues that the repo market, like any banking market, is inherently susceptible to runs and therefore ought to be regulated. In this case, the regulations should focus on insuring the availability of sufficient high-quality collateral to keep depositors calm. Gorton observes that the existing policy responses to the crisis (e.g. the Dodd-Frank bill) do pretty much nothing to address this fundamental need. The Gordon/Metrick paper contains some specific proposals, which unfortunately Gorton never got to in yesterday’s talk.
(via Thoma)

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