Thursday, November 5, 2009

NIF - Bark worse than Bite?

It's no secret that I've not been convinced of the "achievability" or desirability of the proposed regulatory infrastructure being proposed by the National Institute of Finance. But you know, I may be mellowing a bit. Here's why.

I bumped into an old business school/Algorithimcs alumni friend of mine in the Toronto airport on Tuesday (Dr. Dan Rosen - the brain with legs). He has been involved in NIF discussions over the past months and was actually the first person to tell me about it.

Well, I took the opportunity to suggest to Dan that NIF was behaving either arrogantly or naively or both. Dan gave me a kind but patronizing look and asserted the following.

"Ken, when the US government shut down Lehman but not AIG, they had no real understanding of whether that was the right move or not. They did not have anything to objectively measure what was the better decision." Crap, that's clear to me... "The objective of NIF is to help generate that understanding", Dan continued.

I immediately and quite cleverly (I thought) countered by shouting "Yes, but these guys are talking about splitting atoms, sending man to the moon and regulatory harmonization. The first two were easy!". Finally, I've managed to achieve some minimal sort of intellectual equity with the Ph.D. who was able to construct, graphically, Mick Jaggar's lips with a gamma graph on RiskWatch while drinking his cappucino and developing new credit risk management algorithms on his dirty napkin.

"Ken, Ken, Ken" (Dan's impatience starting to become evident), "these guys are politicians. They have to talk that way. All NIF wants to do is help increase transparency and provide better decision support.".

Now that makes sense to me. If the NIF folks start talking pragmatically and dump the atom splitting talk, I'm in . Forget about world peace, regulatory harmonization and poltical multi-partisanship. Transparency is the single most valuable objective we can shoot for.

And wouldn't you know it, the dark knight steps up to the plate. Bloomberg, are you serious?

The plot thickens...

Dazed and confused,


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