Regulating Systemic Risks

To the Editor:

Peter Wallison masterfully exposes the pitfalls in Rep. Barney Frank’s proposal to create a “systemic risk regulator” (“Congress Is the Real Systemic Risk,” March 17). But it’s worth emphasizing that we already have an excellent regulator of systemic risks: the market. Because participation in any aspect of the market is voluntary, each individual – risking only his or her own assets – chooses how, and how much, to participate. The competition, personal responsibility, and inherent decentralization characteristic of the market keep systemic risks small.

Large systemic risks are created only when competition is replaced by monopoly power, when decentralization is supplanted by centralized decision-making, and when personal responsibility gives way to socialized ‘sharing’ of costs and benefits. Government is the one institution capable of achieving this troika of troublesomeness. Monopoly control over the money supply is only the most devious of the countless ways that government dangerously intrudes itself systemically, and with no competition, into market transactions.


Donald J. Boudreaux


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