Friday, March 12, 2010

Elliott Spitzer on government’s role in the market

Government’s proper role in the market, in the Boston Review.

Spitzer writes from the point of view of a former Attorney General of New York (as opposed to real estate heir, former Governor, or Greek tragedian).

"To sum up, I want to leave you with ten points:
• Only government can enforce integrity and transparency in the marketplace; self-regulation is a failure.
• Only government can take necessary steps to overcome market failures, such as negative externalities or monopoly power.
• Only government can act to preserve certain core values in the market, such as prohibitions on discrimination.
• Too-big-to-fail is too-big-not-to-fail.
• We’re suffering from the Peter Principle on Steroids, and it will get us into deeper trouble.
• Taxpayers have been getting the short end of the stick in everything we’ve been doing. The Treasury Department is not negotiating for us.
• Risk is real, and no complex scheme of financial instruments can make it go away.
• We have de-leveraged the wrong way, by socializing risks and privatizing benefits. The government has accepted all the debt obligations of the private sector, and taxpayers now owe this money.
• The only way to reform corporate governance is to get the owners—the shareholders—of companies involved and actually paying attention.
• All of this is very tough: being able to diagnose a problem is a whole lot easier than mustering the will to fix it. "

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