Monday, May 25, 2009

The Problem with the Idea that Anything is "Too Big to Fail"

WSJ: Moral Hazard and one of the key underlying problems exposed by the Meltdown:

Why did so many players place these large, risky bets? A simple yet significant part of the answer is that the potential gains and losses were asymmetric. If housing prices continued to climb, or at least not fall, the participants could achieve large profits. If housing prices failed to appreciate, or even fell, the losses would be largely borne by others, including taxpayers. "Heads" and the bettors would win -- "tails" and others would lose.

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