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Reuters column: Roots of the next financial crisis: the last one’s veterans give views

Guest column by Lawrence Hsieh, Practical Law for Regulatory Intelligence

There is a general consensus that the next financial crisis will follow the familiar arc of bubble, falling asset values, a run, credit/liquidity crunch, finger-pointing, new regulation, financial innovation, and unintended consequences for both regulation and innovation. There is less consensus about the where, when, how, and why.

Perceived risks range from disruptive financial technologies and shadow banking to political turmoil in Brazil and economic weakness in China.

I asked experts including policy veterans of the last crisis for their thoughts on the near-term probability of another one, including their views on sources of risk listed below. Their responses, which reflect their own views and not necessarily the views of the organizations that they work for, are set out below this list....

Dan Gallagher, President of Patomak Global Partners, LLC, SEC commissioner (2011 – 2015)

When President Obama signed the Dodd-Frank Act into law in 2010, he told the American people that they “will never again be asked to foot the bill for Wall Street’s mistakes.”

However, Dodd-Frank’s false narrative that the financial crisis resulted from a lack of regulation and Wall Street greed continues to distract us from the fact that the primary driver of the financial crisis – faulty federal housing policy – still threatens our economy today. When the government focuses on issues like conflict mineral disclosure, CEO pay ratios, and proprietary trading – none of which caused the crisis – it ignores the fact that mortgage underwriting standards are again on the decline and taxpayers still face potentially massive exposure to housing zombies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which (along with other federal agencies) currently guarantee 90 percent percent of U.S. mortgage loans.

Apparently forgotten are the years of extraordinary quantitative easing and near zero interest rates following the crisis which have fueled new and potentially dangerous asset bubbles while doing little to improve real economic growth. And emboldened by new authority in the ill-fated Dodd-Frank Act, the Fed is using its supervisory power to control and neuter swaths of the economy to the detriment of every American. The unfortunate truth is that Americans have paid, and future generations likely will continue to pay, for flawed governmental policy.

 

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