Steven Schwarzman, the private equity billionaire and human PR disaster who once compared raising taxes on the rich to Hitler’s invasion of Poland, has some thoughts on how to prevent the next financial crisis. What would you guess they are?
If you guessed “reverse any regulations put in place to make the banking system safer after the last financial crisis,” then my friend, you are one savvy reader of Gawker.com. Schwarzman’s op-ed in the Wall Street Journal today, sporting the clickbaity title “How the Next Financial Crisis Will Happen,” is, unfortunately, written like a tepid white paper, but it’s not hard to get his gist: in order to prevent the next financial crisis, we must immediately roll back banking regulation so that it resembles how it was at the exact moment the last financial crisis struck. Makes... sense....?
The Volcker Rule, for example, bans proprietary trading by banks. The prohibition, when combined with enhanced capital and liquidity requirements, has led banks to avoid some market-making functions in certain key equity and debt markets... A liquidity drought can exacerbate, or even trigger, the next financial crisis. Sellers will offer securities, but there will be no buyers. Prices will drop sharply, causing large losses for investors, pension funds and financial institutions. Additional fire sales will aggravate the decline.
“Proprietary trading” means “banks gambling with the money that you gave them to hold for you,” and the purpose of restricting it is to prevent banks from blowing up by making bad bets with your money, as happened in the subprime mortgage crisis. Steven Schwarzman—a man who also advocates significantly slashing his own personal taxes as a solid plan for America’s economy—would have you believe that the exceedingly modest steps the government has taken to make banks less prone to blowing up since the 2008 crisis will be exactly what causes the next crisis. As you know, Wall Street banks are so good at keeping their behavior aligned with the public good that no regulation is necessary, as we have learned from key historic moments such as the 2008 crisis.
You’re not gonna make it through the revolution, Schwarzman.