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Roubini: Break Up the Banks or Hang Someone in the Streets

Economist Dr. Nouriel Roubini — Professor of Economics, NYU’s Stern School of Business

July 8, 2012 | Business Insider

What can we do to prevent banking scandals?

In a recent interview, Bloomberg’s Caroline Connan asked Nouriel Roubini what he thought about the Barclays LIBOR rate-fixing scandal.

Rather than addressing it directly, Roubini argued that many of the structural issues that caused the financial crisis have not yet been addressed since the financial crisis.

“The incentives of the banks is still to cheat and do things that are either illegal or immoral,” he said.  “The only way to avoid that is to break up these financial supermarkets. When you have within the same firm commercial banking, investment banking, asset management, prime brokerage, insurance, underwriting , derivatives…there are no Chinese walls and there are massive conflicts of interest.”

Roubini thinks its wiser to address the system than the players.

“Bankers are greedy,” he continued. “They’ve been greedy for the last hundreds of years.  It’s not a question of if they’re more immoral today than they were a thousand years ago. You have to make sure they behave in ways in which they minimize those risks.  One way of doing it is to separate those activities so you minimize the conflicts of interest. Otherwise these things are going to happen over and over again.”


However, this is not to say people shouldn’t be punished.  Roubini thinks that everything should be done to create disincentives to prevent bankers from acting in bad ways. And currently, the punishments just don’t go far enough.

Nobody has gone to jail since the financial crisis. The banks, they do things that are illegal and at best they slap on them a fine.  If some people end up in jail, maybe that will teach a lesson to somebody.  Or somebody hanging in the streets.

That last bit caused Bloomberg’s Connan to pause before she could get to the next question.

Speaking of the bigger picture, Roubini warned that the current risks out there could potentially trounce the global economy in 2013.

“A collapse of the eurozone, a U.S. double dip, a hard landing in China, a hard landing in emerging markets, and war in the middle east…next year we could see a global perfect storm,” he warned.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/roubini-break-up-banks-greedy-bankers-2012-7#ixzz204UekPTa


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