If you listen to Obama and the left tell the story, the cause of our economic meltdown had nothing to do with Fannie, Freddie, fraudulent bond ratings, or - at the heart of all of these - race based market distortions introduced by Democrats and protected with the race card right up until Fannie and Freddie failed. The left's boogyman is Wall St. greed as expressed through transferring risk to Fannie and Freddie and the use of Credit Default Swaps. And this meme has been picked up in Europe as regards Greece's fiscal meltdown.
I blogged on Credit Default Swaps in a long post on the origins of our economic meltdown here. Credit Default Swaps are basically insurance - a way of managing risk. There is nothing untoward about them - though they failed during the mortgage meltdown because of mark to market accounting rules along with a big assist from fraudulent bond ratings.
Now, the left, and the Europeans, want to place substantial restrictions on Credit Default Swaps. It is suffice, it to say, an unwise idea. This from Prof. Bainbridge:
. . . This is just absurd.
Let's review what credit default swaps are and how they work:
Credit default swaps (CDS) are a form of insurance. Let's say you borrow money from me. I'm worried that you might default. So I hedge that risk by purchasing a CDS. If you end up unable to pay me back, the seller of the CDS will cover my losses. (The insurance analogy admittedly is not exact, but it suffices for present purposes.
As the Journal explained, banning the use of CDSs as a hedging device would have adverse consequences, just as banning insurance would:
Any attempt to restrict CDS trades could result in unintended consequences such as more risk for the financial system and higher borrowing costs for a range of nations and companies, some analysts and investors warn.
Restricting credit-default swap trading could push up borrowing costs for various nations if investors feel they have fewer ways to protect themselves if the bonds' prices decline. . . .
. . . As the Journal explained:
[A] study released Monday by Germany's financial regulator, BaFin, found no evidence that credit-default swaps have been used to speculate against Greek national debt. The study showed the net volume of outstanding credit-default contracts on Greek national debt has remained unchanged since January at about $9 billion. This compares to total Greek government debt of about $400 billion. "The market data do not show massive speculation in CDSs," the regulator concluded. . . .
There is much more. Do read the entire post. The bottom line is that CDS perform an important function, and to regulate them out of existence or to severely circumscribe their use is very likely to have unwanted consequences. And the last thing the world economy needs now is more volatility.
Of course, that is the rational way of looking at it all. For Obama, who has shown that he is quite willing to demonize anyone (Chysler secured debt holders) or anything (insurance companies) for political ends, rationality would seem to be of little consequence.