SO, WHAT ELSE SHOULD WE DO?
Everyone is having their own 'hypotheses' and 'scapegoats to blame' on the economic condition today. Yes, it all started from the US sub-prime mortgage crisis and ultimately like a 'contagious desease' - it 'assaulted' the banking and financial institutions including their instruments.
1) Lawmakers claimed that it's the financial institutions failed to adhere to the BAFIA and latter snarled at lawmakers for inadequate enforcement.
2) Investors hurled allegations at banks for 'wiping out' their money 'riskily' (insurance, pension funds etc) and the latter fought back saying that investors gave them authority to do so.
3) Fund Managers are affected as well - demanding for higher pay and/or higher fees.
Seeing international big 'fat' banks being closed did not make things any better. And they said it's 'management problem' - how can international banks operating successfully for nearly or more than a century old can blame on 'management problem'? It doesn't make sense-does it? Furthermore - they were supposed to be the champions of corporate governance with stringent auditors and audit committees working according to codes of practice..in short - by the book! (or the auditors are the 'Baring', 'Enron', 'Worldcom' and 'AA' type of auditors?)
Or perhaps they hired the wrong people? or the unqualified 'Non-Executive Directors' in the Board?(perhaps those with insufficient experience in making turnarounds) So what happens now? Sack them?
But most significantly - the investors are watching directors and auditors very closely...one small mistake can cause huge amount of 'deadly' criticisms and 'threats' like 'I'm no longer investing with you' and vote of inconfidence in AGM.
Lawmakers say that stricter regulations are required - beefed up 'security' to provide a 'win-win' situation for both the investors and the banking/financial institutions. But I think - this is the question of enforcement - our BAFIA and financial standards are FINE!!
So, banks should be giving more and more lending...it looks good but it may also be risky. So, excessive lending without proper control probably would land the banks into trouble and soon ended up in the bailout long list.
I read a good statement from Chairman of IMA during one FSA's Asset Management conference:
"Investment banks are creating and distributing structured investment products aimed at the retail investor. Deceptively simple in sales pitch but complex in construction, they carry issuer risk, liquidity risk, and a level of costs which the retail buyer may not fully understand. Yet this is an area largely free from regulatory oversight and competes directly with a highly regulated traditional investment industry where agency status is central, transparency of fees and holdings de rigueur and government pressure to raise levels of treating customers fairly foremost. Is someone asleep at the watch?”
So? Lawmakers to be blamed? How's credit rating agencies for a change?
Now - agencies in credit rating (CRA) - should their roles be redefined? I know their roles in the capital market are very relevant but
a) Can we really depend on 'estimation'?
b) or just take it as a guide?
c) Are credit rating really accurate?
I know so much money has been spent based on their findings on bonds, debt instruments etc. And how many corporations shuddered when being rated superficially. (not to mention shares and human disposals)
But of course, I find that CRA's consultation can still be improved - on financial products - CDO for example and of course not forgetting the tranching of asset portfolios etc. Most of all, they need to educate the investors on the rationale of their ratings including the complex variations of many types of bonds.
Investors - I recommend that they too need to carry more responsibility rather than putting the blame on others who have worked so hard to ensure sustainability. So have mercy!!