CAUSES, IMPACTS AND THE NEED FOR NEW REGULATIONS
The initial cause of the financial turbulence is attributed to the U.S. sub-prime residential mortgage market. The sustained rise in asset prices, particularly house prices, on the back of excessively accommodative monetary policy and lax lending standards during 2002-2006, increased innovation in the new financial instruments, unusual low interest rates resulted in a large rise in mortgage credit to households; particularly low credit quality households, the greed of investors’ for ever higher returns coupled with very minimal down payments, along with the dependence on major global rating agencies, allowed complex investments products to be sold to an extremely wide range of investors. The repacking of credits with some other financial instruments, the rising complexity of the products, emerging “monoline’ guarantors in the marketplace – that are not being regulated, and the governments came into rescue, sometimes even difficult who’s the one to be blamed for the crisis. These would address the issue of transparency, conflict of interests among the market participants, regulatory and supervisory system, in particular their cooperation.
Development of the Crisis
In order to keep recession away, the Federal Reserve lowered the Federal funds rate 11 times from May 2000 (6.5%) to December 2001(1.75%), and this creating a flood of liquidity in the economy. Cheap money, created a favorable breeding ground for reckless risk taking. It found easy prey in restless financial institutions, and even more restless borrowers who had no income, no job and no assets. These subprime borrowers wanted to realize their life's dream of acquiring a home. For them, holding the hands of a willing banker was a new way of hope. There were more home loans, more home buyers, more appreciation in home prices. The Federal continued slashing interest rates, perhaps, by continued low inflation despite lower interest rates. In June 2003, the Fed lowered interest rates to 1%, the lowest rate in 45 years. The whole financial market started turn just like a candy shop where everything was selling at a huge discount and with a very minimal down payment. Unfortunately, no one was there to warn about the tummy aches that would follow. The financial institutions thought that it just was not enough to lend out the loans with just minimal interest rates. They decided to repackage the mortgage loans with other financial instruments such as collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) or asset-backed commercial paper (ABC paper), or structured investment vehicles (SIVs) and pass on the debt to another candy shop. As appeared by the Central Banks Governors, these risk-based instruments was an aid for the investors in the marketplace since enabled them to purchase the precise degree of risk they willing to tolerate with, at given alternate returns. And also the mortgage market would become more liquid as sales were facilitated. The new financial instruments gave options to the banks to hold the loans they made as an off-balance sheet vehicle, or sell to others, or pay another institution to accept the risk of default. This was coupled with the belief one can sell or get ride off the risk via synthetic CDOs which was impossible to the system as a whole. One of the investment vehicles of the new instruments is the hedge funds. Investors of the hedge funds included financial institutions for example pension funds and non-for-profit institutions. Many of these hedge funds just ignore the warning signals of their insolvency early in the financial crisis. Most of the hedge fund industry required no public reporting since was located in offshore tax havens and that experienced no supervision. Nevertheless, it was unclear on what level this industry to get negatively impacted by the financial crisis. Apart from these, it was a need in improving transparency.
There were also dramatic...