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Too Big to Fail, Too Big to Jail

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The theme of this session is very timely and controversial, on the ability of sovereign governments to supervise Large Complex Financial Institutions (LCFIs), now officially described as G-SIFIs, global systemically important financial institutions.

The title of this paper, Too Big to Fail, Too Big to Jail is not a morality statement, but one of physical size. How do we regulate or manage financial institutions that grow larger than nations? Allow me to call them financial Godzillas, the mythical Japanese animation creature – created by technology, growing non-stop, hard to define and stop, but you know one when you see one.

Possibly because of jetlag, I saw three ghosts of Bretton Woods last night. The first one asked me to do some “ruthless truth-telling”, exactly what John Maynard Keynes said in his address at the official launching of the IMF. The second ghost who was Asian asked me to apologize before I speak, since truth telling was bound to offend someone. The third, which looked like a Godfather, asked me to just do it, because it’s not personal, its business. I would therefore like to say that any comment or opinion expressed today is totally personal, and not associated with any official organization that I am affiliated with.

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