Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Making the Impossible, Possible

Recently I attended a conference discussing the Dodd-Frank financial regulation bill and the problem of "Too Big to Fail" (TBTF) banks. Speaking on one of the panels was Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's. Before making his remarks, Zandi prefaced that the potential solutions he would offer for fixing the US housing market were not necessarily ideal but held the greatest potential for actually being adopted. This was certainly not the first time I'd heard a speech prefaced in that fashion, but for whatever reason it struck me differently and led to some perplexing questions.

Most people likely agree that our current economic and political environment is not ideal. Incredible amounts of time and effort is being spent across the country by intelligent people, all trying to find answers to the current problems. Although the options considered in these efforts are surely vast, those recommendations made by politicians and pundits alike, typically focus only on those plans deemed politically feasible. Yet in a democracy, feasibility, to some extent, relies on the public's ability to support a decision. I think it's fair to say that most individuals, myself included, have not spent (and simply don't have) the requisite time necessary to be aware of the ideal options for fixing each sector of the economy. If individuals, broadly, are never made aware of these possibilities, then the odds of public support are clearly diminished. But what if these choices were presented candidly as being ideal along side other options that were deemed more feasible. Would this outlay of options generate more or less support for those policies considered feasible? Would the public occasionally show widespread support for an ideal resolution? Would politicians be praised for providing more information or punished for appearing unwilling to fight for the best outcome?

Breaking with tradition is always risky, but I wonder if more transparency might not lead to greater feasibility. My belief is that expanding knowledge will ultimately lead to better decisions and better outcomes. My hope is that politicians will be willing to test these waters more often and be rewarded by voters for taking that risk.

What are different readers' perspectives on this topic and the questions noted above?

Please share your thoughts through comments...

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