More signals that the days of deregulation are over

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Der Spiegel has reported that:

The head of Germany's leading Deutsche Bank, Josef Ackermann, said the world financial crisis currently unfolding would need strong and organized government intervention to stop further bleeding in financial institutions. Simple market corrections, he said, won't do the trick. "I no longer believe in the market's self-healing power," he told an audience in Frankfurt on Monday. "Making liquidity available isn't the cure-all."

Coming on the same day as Martin Wolf has said the same thing I believe it's safe to say that the neo-liberal model is dead.

But there are those who persist with the other view. This is John Kay in the FT today:

The notion that future banking crises can be averted by better regulation demonstrates unrealistic expectations of what regulation might achieve. ..

Perhaps there was once a golden age when the authority and wisdom of central bankers were so great that such regulation was possible and effective, although the recurrence of bank crises suggests otherwise. Today the financial services industry is the most powerful political lobby in the country and public trust in and respect for regulation are low. All regulators feel buffeted by threats of legal action; there is no easier way to win applause from business audiences than by denouncing red tape.

But in financial services, the demand today is for more regulation. That call should be resisted. The state cannot ensure the stability of the financial system and a serious attempt to do so would involve intervention on an unacceptable scale. But to acknowledge responsibility for financial stability is to assume a costly liability for failure to achieve it. That is what has happened.

The dinosaurs aren't going to die without a struggle it seems, but the argument Kay presents is absurd. What's he's saying is that finance must be allowed to do what it will and the state should pick up the pieces when it goes wrong. That, of course, is exactly why it must be either regulated, and reformed until that can be done. It's the latter that Kay ignores as a possibility, and he's wrong to do so. No one is going to give banks licence to carry on in the future as they have to date.