Sunday, July 19, 2009

Balancing Financial Innovation and Consumer Protection -

Robert Shiller in the NY Times

Economic View - Balancing Financial Innovation and Consumer Protection -

"That is how innovation often proceeds — by learning from errors and hazards and gradually conquering problems through devices of increasing complexity and sophistication."


"We need consumer products that people can use properly, and if this is what “plain vanilla” means, that’s a good thing. But we also need financial innovation that responds to central problems. The effectiveness of our free enterprise system depends on allowing business people to manage the myriad risks — including the risk of asset bubbles — that impinge on their operations in the long term."

and later (near the end)

"Complexity is not in itself a bad thing. It is, in fact, a hallmark of modern civilization. A laptop computer is an immensely complex instrument, with trillions of electronic components, and almost none of us can explain what goes on inside it. Yet it can be designed well so that it seems plain vanilla to the ultimate user."

While I like the analogy to the steam engine it breaks down somewhat since James Watt used self constraint and did not use high pressure until it could be safely used. That said the rest of the article, and the analogy itself, is excellent.

(I confess at some levels this "plain vanilla" talk battle reminds me the battle over Riordan Metal early in Atlas Shrugged)


For a slightly differing view (one that says that the complexity was not needed and harmful and essentially just a means to "rip off" others, see this SeekingAlpha article.

1 comment:

FINACE said...

This is the perfect way for the balancing of or finance but how is is possible to balance finance in this tough economic time thank for the info