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Bo Peng
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I run a fund based on automated trading and technical analysis. But my favorite pastime is thinking and talking about political economy. I guess I'm George Soros. Writing helps clarifying my thinking. All opinion expressed here is mine, wholly mine, nobody's but mine. And all trading/investment... More
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  • Too-Freemarket Is Anti-Free-Market 3 comments
    Apr 8, 2009 7:01 AM

    How did we get into this mess?

    I mean, our financial industry has so overgrown that it has taken over iconic manufacturers such as GM, GE, and Boeing and become their main profit center for years, even decades. It has hired so many traders who don't even understand their own trades, risk managers who blindly throw VAR at everything like snakeoil (or Gaussian distribution, or mean reversion, or my personal favorite, 40% recovery assumption), executives who don't know or even care about what their companies have been doing, programmers who don't understand anything about programming beyond the syntax, and a vast army of middle-management whose only job it is to foward emails and track status. It has hijacked world governments and public policy to such an extend that the society has no choice but to bail it out, because it is too big to fail.

    But here's the rub: we're making it even more too-big-to-fail.

    There is no stronger an advocate of free market and presumed righteousness of market pricing than Wall Street. But when Wall Street's puppet government, across two supposedly ideological opposites no less, insists on using public money to create an artifical market, you know it has gone too far. It has gone straight around the circle of Yinyang and become its own moral enemy, its own Judas.

    Free market has committed suicide.

    But it gets worse. The Unholy Ghost of Anti-Freemarket is still walking the Earth, preaching the same words to the Great Unwashed Public, who nod and chant in unison: Yeah! Thou shalt not nationalize! Amen! WTF?!

    No, that last part was me.

    Free market is inherently unstable due to built-in positive feedback, which is in turn due to human greed and fear among other behavioral patterns. This is the source for fat tail or Black Swan. We may never be able to eliminate the instability short of killing free market altogether. But pretending we're still a Freemarket while using public money to create an artificial market is sheer lunacy.

    I'm still against government regulation. And what we have now is regulation to the extreme. Instead, we should let banks fail as they may, re-enact Glass-Steagall, and let free market return to Wall Street in the form of private partnership investment banks.

    Derivatives is not the problem. The problem is people playing derivatives with other people's money.

    Bonus is not the problem. The problem is maturity mismatch between bonus and risk, or letting incompetent managers allocate bonus based not on merit but on personal politics.

    Even bubble is not the problem. It's inevitable (instability, positive feedback). The problem is denying the possibility of bubble in the name of omnipotent Freemarket.

    Kill Freemarket. Long live the free market.

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Comments (3)
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  • Austin Lance Butler
    , contributor
    Comments (14) | Send Message
    hear hear


    8 Apr 2009, 01:41 PM Reply Like
  • Lapin
    , contributor
    Comment (1) | Send Message
    Yup. We need to put the risk back into the "risk-reward" equation, so those who take the risk are the ones who get hurt if things blow up. And make sure nothing is "too big to fail".


    8 Apr 2009, 03:47 PM Reply Like
    , contributor
    Comments (125) | Send Message
    Great thoughts. But at the end of the day, the majority of Amurkin consumers really don't want to know what's going on. They just want paychecks, and weekends. And sensationalist "new programs" they blame everybody else for everything that is going wrong.


    Those of us who ARE aware of the inanity of our manipulated markets are left to suffer, and generally alone.
    8 Apr 2009, 05:55 PM Reply Like
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