Another Unregulated Market

Carbon offset markets are about thinking at the margin. Hoping to become the first carbon neutral state in the world, the Vatican bought carbon offsets. The U.S. House of Representatives funded an $89,000 purchase of carbon offsets. Before boarding, you can…

Crisis Autopsy

In an October NY Times op-ed, Calvin Trillin describes a (hypothetical) conversation in a midtown bar about the financial crisis. “The financial system nearly collapsed because smart guys had started working on Wall Street.” By contrast, decades ago, a top student became…

A History of Financial Regulation

The Plunge Protection Team is composed of the chair of the Federal Reserve, the Secretary of the Treasury, the SEC, and the Commodities Futures Trading Commission.  Officially called the Working Group on Financial Markets, this group was formed after the…

A One-Handed Economist?

Let’s not look at CDOs, SIVs, ARMs, TIPs or ATMs. Nor do we need specifically to consider credit default swaps, securitization, hedge funds or venture capital. Instead, we can go to the question that Robert Litan asks at the end…

Legislative Jeopardy

Between 1932 and 1934, the Senate’s Pecora Commission, named after its general counsel, amassed 12,000 pages of testimony.  Its focus was the impact of stock exchange practices on banking, securities, and commerce.  Subsequent major financial legislation was based on the work of…

Unintended Consequences

New rules might not always have the results regulators expect.  Starting on April 29, any airplane that sits on the tarmac for longer than 3 hours will be fined up to $27,500 per passenger.  For a Boeing 737, that could mean…

The Top 19

Are 19 banks “too big to fail?” Listening to Bloomberg radio, I heard that four banking firms control close to 50 percent of their industry’s assets, that the top 19 control 85 percent, and that the bottom 8000 control 15 per cent.  An…

Is the Market Ethical?

Some people believe that government should control areas that we consider most valuable while others say precisely the opposite. The “war” between government believers and market believers was evident in Saturday’s Wall Street Journal. Wherever kidneys are paid for through…

Who Should Get A Kidney?

Some say that it is unethical to pay someone for a kidney while others say it is unethical to use a method (a government list) that makes fewer donor organs available. As always, choosing is refusing. The debate continues in…