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5/12/2019  
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Financial Inclusion

European Divorce


Lehman Brothers crisis revealed the fragility of a financial system that, far from meeting the needs of the real economy, it used its efforts in producing a wide range of sophisticated products to suit the large speculators (the white collar new villains), whose aim was to cause a rapid bubbles for their own enrichment, under the mistaken assumption that the core assets (real estate and "commodities") probably wouldn´t abandon the rising trend.
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No need to evaluate on where this casino finance luck can conclude, it is more like a pyramid game, where often the key clue of achievement is related to the ease of placing quickly the business product (not very traceable since financial agents themselves didn´t known what was behind the flamboyant packaging, to the point of placing toxic products to your best customers). Since then, they retook the debate over the separation between investment and commercial banking, something already established in the USA under Roosevelt New Deal and abolished during Clintons periods under pressure from the U.S. financial lobbyists (following the gradual shift of business investment rescue towards London City).

While it is true that that Lehman Brothers in USA does not mean theta they will come back to its origins, it is also true that the Dodd -Frank law dealing with the Financial Reform and Consumer´s Protection , implemented in  July 2010 , creates a powerful supervisory framework and financial regulation, highlighting the creation of the "Consumer financial protection agency" (responsible for ensuring investor protection, forcing the use of a simple and understandable language to standardize financial products and fight depraved banking practices).

Meanwhile, Europe is still looking to its bellybutton without concreting unfinished reforms, in short, is not difficult to imagine what invisible hand will once again hamper any initiative towards a financial regulation.

Having said so, Michel Barnier (the super Internal Market Commissioner) has submitted this week to the Commissionaire´s panel a proposal set around two basis: firstly, prevent that the banks speculate against  their own portfolio of industrial investments (proprietary trading) and, moreover, the (very limited) separation between commercial and investment banking  (based on Liikanen´s report, 2011).

The proposal, which only affect the so-called systemic institutions (over 30,000 million euros of assets), resigns to the separation of business investments and commercial banking, as the ECB (through the new competence of the single supervisor) would only interfere in the separation of activities when it detects a serious financial stability risk.

And all of this at the expense of future intergovernmental compromises (in the upcoming European Council framework) projected to enter in force by 2017. Paraphrasing Keynes: are there reasons to think financial governments will improve or in the long run, we are all dead?


Carlos Trias Pintó
Member of the EESC and Director of ASGECO


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