May 12, 2009
Dear Sir, The prevailing view amongst the commentariat (reflected in the recent deliberations of the G20) that the financial crash of 2008 was caused by market failure is both wrong and dangerous. Government failure had a leading role in creating the conditions that led to the crash.
* Central banks created a monetary bubble that fed an asset price boom and distorted the pricing of risk.
* US government policy encouraged high-risk lending through support for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (which had explicit government targets of providing over 50pc of mortgage finance to poor households) and through the Community Reinvestment Act and related regulations.
* Regulators and central bankers failed to use their considerable powers to stop risks building up in the financial system and an extension of regulation will not make a future crash less likely.
* Much existing banking regulation exacerbated the crisis and reduced the effectiveness of market monitoring of banks. The FSA, in the UK, has failed in its statutory duty to “maintain market confidence”.