Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Is it time to consider the unthinkable? Nationalisation of the banking industry?

In a past post, back on November 9, 2009, titled: Is free market capitalism fatally flawed?, I argued inter alia that:

a) The economic system in many countries today is flawed but that system is not free market capitalism

b) A key factor leading to the flaws and resulting popular dissatisfaction with the current economic systems are major flaws in competition laws and related supervision of the markets.

c) the BBC World Service poll results show need for better functioning free markers and better welfare state, both!

d) The BBC World Service poll results show the need to secure peoples' basic needs and for giving people more freedom in pursuing wants and dreams in their work/economic or social or other aspects of their lives.

e) Neoliberalism and conservatism tend to underestimate the fundamental human "need" for basic needs including the security of social security

f) Most political parties and platforms miss the concept that some things are better done by the market, some better done by the public sector. Each sector has activities where it is stronger.

Instead we are flooded by ideologies that either theologise the markets and demonise the state and its public sector (eg most Libertarians) or, to an increasing again level, the opposite, ie theologise the state and its public sector and demonise the private sector.

Modern systemics and dynamics are complex and volatile thus they are difficult to grasp. Thus some resort to the aforementioned and other simplistic models that have IMO confused the public opinion.

What is the solution? Not simple, but a basic element of any model I have in mind is:

To have the state/Society guarantee all its members that rain or shine their basic needs will be covered and then let them go out to real free markets to pursue their wants.

Well, basic banking falls under the "needs" part and given the performance of so many banks in so many OECD countries in the last few years, it is maybe time to consider the unthinkable (after all banks did get temporarily nationalised, officially or effectively, in the UK, the US, etc and now in Ireland, etc. Something that before 2008 only Chavez would consider! But 2008 has brought down many myths re the systemics of the economies we live in and if the taxpayers are to foot the bill for saving banks, then they have a right to own them in return (ie nationalisation).

As per investment banking, it should remain private but be 100% separated from basic banking and those who use them should do that at their own risk (ie policy makers and regulators must make sure that none of them becomes too big to fail again).

It is about separating needs from mere wants and about separating low or no risk from risk encompassing finance.

Radical times call for radical policy making.

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