Sunday, July 04, 2010

"Regulation lags innovation."

That's from the always insightful Richard Posner. Here's more:
Everything conspires against a government’s being able to protect its people against disasters, whether natural or man-made. A factor that retards prevention of man-made disasters is the rapid and relentless advance of technology. Regulation lags innovation. The Federal Reserve, Treasury Department, and SEC were no more able to keep abreast of advances in financial engineering than MMS was to keep abreast of advances in drilling for oil at very great depths under water. Slack regulation encourages private companies to adopt a high-risk business model.

Two final problems illuminate the nation’s vulnerability to disasters. First, it is very hard for anyone to get credit for preventing a low-probability disaster. Because such a disaster was unlikely to occur, the benefits of taking action beforehand could not be assessed unless the preventive action took the form of a dramatic last-minute save.

The second problem is that there are so many risks of disaster that they can't all be addressed without bankrupting the world many times over. In fact, they can’t even be anticipated.

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