Quote of the Day – 10.23.08

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QUOTE OF THE DAY….From Alan Greenspan, testifying before Congress on the derivatives market:

“Credit default swaps, I think, have serious problems associated with them.”

Ya think? The subprime lending market may have been the trigger for our late financial collapse, but the truth is that the trigger could just as easily been mispriced risk (i.e., irrational exuberance) in a variety of other markets. If subprimes had been regulated better, maybe there would have been a bubble in commercial real estate instead. Or arctic oil drilling. Or online pet food companies. Who knows? Regardless of the trigger, however, it was only when the resulting bubble got multiplied tenfold by opaque global chains of credit default swaps that the bursting of an asset bubble went from routine disaster to worldwide financial meltdown. So yeah: there are serious problems there. Here’s more from Greenspan:

“I made a mistake in presuming that the self-interests of organizations, specifically banks and others, were such as that they were best capable of protecting their own shareholders and their equity in the firms,” Mr. Greenspan said.

….Mr. Waxman pressed the former Fed chair to clarify his words. “In other words, you found that your view of the world, your ideology, was not right, it was not working,” Mr. Waxman said.

“Absolutely, precisely,” Mr. Greenspan replied. “You know, that’s precisely the reason I was shocked, because I have been going for 40 years or more with very considerable evidence that it was working exceptionally well.”

Hmmm. Maybe not quite so well as he thought.

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