commercial banks are probably the most heavily regulated group in the financial sector, yet they are in much greater difficulties than say the hedge fund industry, which is one of the least regulated industries in the financial sector.How did this happen?
One reason why extensive regulation of commercial banks did not prevent many banks from getting into trouble is that bank examiners became optimistic along with banks about the risks associated with mortgages and other bank assets because the market priced these assets as if they carried little risk. It would run counter to human nature for regulators to take a skeptical attitude toward the riskiness of various assets when the market is indicating that these assets are not so risky, and when originating and holding these assets has been quite profitable. One can expect regulators to mainly follow rather than lead the market in assessing riskiness and other asset characteristics.Becker allows that some regulatory changes are warranted, but concludes:
The financial sector has served the economy well by managing, dividing, and pricing different types of risks in the economy. It would be a mistake if Congress and the President allow the present financial turmoil to panic them into inefficient new financial regulations.