No, that’s not someone talking about the banking industry. That’s Howard Wheeldon of BGC Partners (a brokerage firm) responding to Adair Turner’s statement last September that “Some financial activities which proliferated over the last 10 years were socially useless, and some parts of the system were swollen beyond their optimal size.” (Turner is head of the FSA, the United Kingdom’s primary bank regulator.) That’s from a recent profile of Turner on Bloomberg.
“‘How dare he?’ Wheeldon now says. ‘Markets will decide if something is too big or too small. It’s not for an individual, however powerful, to slam and damn nearly 1 million people.'”
Do we really need to point out that markets don’t always make the right decisions? Markets didn’t break up Standard Oil or AT&T–people did. And how is it wrong for public figures to be publicly stating their beliefs about what the objectives of public policy should be?
But the point of this post isn’t to single out another free-market zealot who apparently doesn’t think about the words he is saying. It’s to talk about John Paulson and Malcolm Gladwell.