Kotlikoff has actively proposed extremely simple reforms of the U.S. financial system, tax system, health care system, and retirement income system. His proposed reform of the financial system, discussed in Jimmy Stewart Is Dead, called Limited Purpose Banking, transforms all financial companies with limited liability, including incorporated banks, insurance companies, financial exchanges, and hedge funds, into pass-through mutual funds, which do not borrow to invest in risky assets, but, instead, allows the public to directly choose what risks it wishes to bear by purchasing more or less risky mutual funds. Limited Purpose Banking keeps banks, insurance companies, hedge funds and other financial corporations from borrowing short and lending long and leaving the public to pick up the pieces when things go south. Instead, it forces financial intermediaries to limit their activities to their sole legitimate purpose—financial inter-mediation. Limited Purpose Banking substitutes the vast array of extant federal and state financial regulatory bodies with a single financial regulator called the Federal Financial Authority (FFA). The FFA would have a narrow purpose namely to verify, disclosure, and oversee the independent rating and custody off all securities purchased and sold by mutual funds.
Limited Purpose Banking puts takes the multifaceted fraud out of our financial system by turning all banks, insurance companies, hedge funds, etc. into fully transparent mutual fund companies. Limited Purpose Banking also abolishes over 115 federal and state regulatory authorities and replaces them with the Federal Financial Authority, which verifies, fully and immediately discloses, and independently rates and appraises all securities held by the mutual funds.
In a nut shell, Limited Purpose Banking makes Wall Street safe for Main Street. Under Limited Purpose Banking we will never again experience financial collapse and contagion.
Narrow Banking says that the monies invested in checking accounts and similar short-term deposits must be invested in very safe securities, like federal government Treasury bills. It lets the rest of the financial system do its own thing and tells that part of the system – “Boys and girls, you’re on your own.” If you borrow money to invest in fraudulent or simply risky securities and lose your shirts, we’re not going to bail you out. Well, this was tried in the case of Lehman’s failure and it blew up in the government’s face.
Limited Purpose Banking includes cash mutual funds, which are held strictly in cash. So one element of LPB is narrow banking. But LPB is much broader. It precludes any financial intermediary of any kind, which is protected by limited liability, from doing anything but marketing mutual funds and the mutual funds are themselves never leveraged. So the entire financial piping system is made safe, not just a few pipes that weren’t at much risk to begin with.
The biggest difference between what we now have and Limited Purpose Banking is we’ll have a financial system that’s honest and that we can trust. This will make all the difference in the world in getting the American economy back on its feet.
Time to order the book.
Filed under: Public Policy |