Monday, October 3, 2011

Today's Markets Are Seized, Not Free

by John Hussman, Ph.D.


"We are headed toward a new recession because our policy makers never addressed the underlying problem in the first place, which was, and remains, the need for debt restructuring...'[F]ailing' institutions can be restructured without any loss to depositors or counterparties...[B]ondholder and shareholder capital of these institutions are more than sufficient to absorb any losses without the need for public funds, provided that the objective of government policy is to protect the people and the long-term viability of the economy, rather than defending the existing owners, bondholders, and managements of these institutions....

We shouldn't blame what is happening here on capitalism or free markets. We really have only a caricature of those here. We have a system that is constantly eager to abandon the proper role of government in the markets - which is effective regulation of risk - and to substitute it with the worst role of government in the markets - which is absorbing losses for those whose losses should not be absorbed, and pursuing policies tilted toward the constant creation of speculative bubbles and the avoidance of required economic adjustments, rather than the productive allocation of capital.

Free markets work - provided that they operate within a framework of government policy that enforces property rights, provides reasonable regulation, coordinates objectives that cannot be achieved privately (e.g. certain infrastructure, insurance coverage for pre-existing conditions - which otherwise creates an adverse selection problem even for companies that would like to offer it), and maintains reasonable consumer protection...."

Complete commentary viewable here.

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