Up to a point, some retrenchment of the financial sector is healthy. It absorbed too much of America’s talent while pursuing strategies that, in hindsight, misallocated the nation’s investment capital. But there are perils to overregulation. It could dampen the normal risk-taking required for solid economic expansion.
However the debate concludes, regulation isn’t a panacea against future crises. The idea of “enlightened regulators” who are vastly more perceptive than the bankers, traders and money managers they regulate is a fiction. Even in early 2007, when the problems of subprime mortgages had emerged, few regulators or economists foresaw a wider financial meltdown. They didn’t see the impending chain reaction. The problem wasn’t a lack of regulation; it was a lack of imagination.
So the next crisis could come from anywhere — perhaps the follies of government, not finance. Between now and 2019, the U.S. federal debt could rise to $11 trillion , projects the Congressional Budget Office. U.S. Treasury bonds are the bedrock of the global financial system; they’re considered safe and reliable. What if a glut of bonds causes investors to lose faith? What are the implications? Good questions. The seeds of the next crisis almost certainly won’t be found in the debris of the last.