Sul New York Times di martedì un OpEd di Nassim Taleb non usa mezze misure: I HAVE a solution for the problem of bankers who take risks that threaten the general public: Eliminate bonuses.
More than three years since the global financial crisis started, financial institutions are still blowing themselves up. The latest, MF Global, filed for bankruptcy protection last week after its chief executive, Jon S. Corzine, made risky investments in European bonds. So far, lenders and shareholders have been paying the price, not taxpayers. But it is only a matter of time before private risk-taking leads to another giant bailout like the ones the United States was forced to provide in 2008.
The promise of “no more bailouts,” enshrined in last year’s Wall Street reform law, is just that — a promise. The financiers (and their lawyers) will always stay one step ahead of the regulators. No one really knows what will happen the next time a giant bank goes bust because of its misunderstanding of risk.
Instead, it’s time for a fundamental reform: Any person who works for a company that, regardless of its current financial health, would require a taxpayer-financed bailout if it failed should not get a bonus, ever. In fact, all pay at systemically important financial institutions — big banks, but also some insurance companies and even huge hedge funds — should be strictly regulated.
Critics like the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators decry the bonus system for its lack of fairness and its contribution to widening inequality. But the greater problem is that it provides an incentive to take risks. The asymmetric nature of the bonus (an incentive for success without a corresponding disincentive for failure) causes hidden risks to accumulate in the financial system and become a catalyst for disaster. This violates the fundamental rules of capitalism; Adam Smith himself was wary of the effect of limiting liability, a bedrock principle of the modern corporation.
Taleb da tempo insiste inoltre su regolamentazioni più semplici ed efficaci:
I believe that “less is more” — simple heuristics are necessary for complex problems. So instead of thousands of pages of regulation, we should enforce a basic principle: Bonuses and bailouts should never mix
Su un piano più generale si pone un articolo di Luigi Zingales su City-Journal sul declino dell'ideale meritocratico (una questione che in Italia non interessa quasi nessuno - visto il poco interesse per avere una società meritocratica - ma che negli Stati Uniti appassiona moltissime persone). Secondo Zingales Americans are unusually supportive of meritocracy, and their support goes a long way toward explaining their embrace of American-style capitalism. According to one recent study, just 40 percent of Americans attribute higher incomes primarily to luck rather than hard work—compared with 54 percent of Germans, 66 percent of Danes, and 75 percent of Brazilians. But perception cannot survive for long when it is distant from reality, and recent trends seem to indicate that America is drifting away from its meritocratic ideals. If the drifting continues, the result could be a breakdown of popular support for free markets and the demise of America’s unique version of capitalism.
Se davvero The fundamental role of an economic system, even an extremely primitive one, is to assign responsibility and reward c'è parecchio lavoro da fare per rimettere il sistema finanziario globale sulla retta via.