Friday, September 19, 2008

Wouter's Wise Words



Wouter is the Dutch finance minister.

He says


I can't imagine that the American financial system will ever again be as it has been. Everyone who now still dares to assert that the financial sector is capable of regulating itself, and shuts his eyes to the fact that that has led in practice to free rein for greed, irresponsible risks and disproportionate, perverse bonus systems, won't be taken seriously anymore. This kind of Capitalism is gone. I think for good.


As a side note, I see the Dutch media all misquoted him slightly. Interesting the things you find out when you use a recording device.

Actual quote:

Ik kan mij niet voorstellen dat de Amerikaans financieele systeem ooit nog wordt zoals het geweest is. Iedereen die nu nog durft te beweren dat de financieele sector in staat is zichzelf te reguleren en de ogen sluit voor het feit dat dat in het praktijk geleid heeft tot eigelijk vrije baan voor hebzucht, onverantwoord risico's en buitenproportioneele, peverse bonussystemen, zal niet meer serious genomen worden. Deze vorm van kapitalism is voorbij. Ik denk voorgoed.

***

In the Dutch media (ANP, repeated by NOS and RTL):

"De hele crisis betekent de definitieve teloorgang van een systeem dat is gebaseerd op hebzucht, onverantwoorde risico's en perverse beloningen", zei de bewindsman vrijdag na afloop van de ministerraad.

3 comments:

Branko Collin said...

What exactly is the wisdom imparted here?

Laura K. said...

I second that motion from branko...

Toby Sterling said...

I'm intending some irony here.

You could file what Bos has to say under "firm grasp of the obvious" but it's always nice when somebody doesn't mince words, and speaks out in the moment rather than after the fact.

On the other hand, I also think that some parts of what he has to say are more dubious than they look _ do we really believe American capitalism is about to get rid of its perverse bonus systems?

Secondarily, I think there's an element of schadenfreude here that may come back to haunt him.

There's still a lot of bad assets hidden on (or off) the balance sheets of big banks, and the Netherlands is home of big banks.

Not to name any names, but not all the financial institutions here are as safe as the Dutch would like to think, imho.

I'd love to give a blow-by-blow takedown of one well-known Dutch banking name, but I think I'd forfeit a bit too much of my journalistic objectivity if I did so...

I was listening to a financial expert the other day hold forth on how "Amerikaanse toestanden" could never happen in the housing market here.

And yet, I wouldn't be surprised if there is a correction in the Dutch real estate market. Leave all the Economist projections aside, and just look at the simple fact that hardly anybody can afford a house (!)

No buyers = prices are too high.