Edward Harrison and Barry Ritholtz make pretty good cases that practically every step that has been taken in trying to deal with the economic downturn that began in 2007 has been wrong. Here’s Edward Harrison:
With the stimulative measures that supported recovery over, the end of the fake recovery is at hand. You need to get rid of any sense that banks are undercapitalised. Until the banks take substantially more credit writedowns and recapitalise, this crisis will continue and get worse.
and now Barry Ritholtz:
The bottom line is this: Investors do not really have a clear idea of how healthy any of these banks truly are. We do not know the state of their balance sheets. We do not know what their exposures are to mortgages, to Europe, to Greece, etc. They could all be technically insolvent, as far as any investor can tell.
And that is exactly how the bankers wanted it.
But given the trouble in Europe, and the likely problems in housing if the US goes into a recession, Investors have decided they cannot take the risk of a holding an opaque, possibly under-capitalized probably over-leveraged financial firm blindly. They are telling the banks no thanks, we are not interested, we are going to be prudent and we have to assume the worst. Hence, for the second half of 2011, they have been selling off their holdings in these opaque, potentially insolvent too big to succeed entities.
Over the period of the last four years we have undertaken a series of short term, temporary solutions for dealing with the economic downturn. There’s nothing wrong short term, temporary solutions per se. Such strategies must be supported by long term, structural reform and both Wall Street and Washington have been desperate to avoid long term, structural reform. They’ve benefited mightily by things as they are.