Friday, July 24, 2009

Never blame securitization

Securitization offers many advantages to all participants in the marketplace. Derivatives decrease barriers of entry to a host of markets, increase potential diversification and customization, and enhance liquidity and hedging activities.

Securitization has represented a series of innovations that have brought about greater efficiency but the problem with innovation, almost by definition, is that they outpace the ability of the infrastructure, on both the private and public side, to sustain the innovation.

Now, the system is trying to catch up but we risk an overreaction that may limit the potential of securitization. Hopefully, an understanding that a return to securitization is crucial to economic recovery (by allowing banks to lend more through risk transference) will lead policymakers to resist any misguided populist sentiment.

The new products present challenges for risk managers and regulators alike. It also burdens operations, technology, and settlement systems in the process. In reality, every level of the financial system will need to continually adapt to changing risk and complexity.

Unfortunately, policymakers, almost by default, will always be behind the curve. Because an attractive fee is extracted at every stage of securitization, the agents, or intermediaries, will will always be prone to excesses. Innovation will always outpace the ability of the infrastructure to sustain it and securitization crises will be a recurring phenomenon in the new age global finance, you bet. But try doing away with it, you're only deepening the liquidity crisis.

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