Thursday, October 23, 2008

Malcolm turned bull in a china shop

When Kevin Rudd announced on Oct 12th that the government will guarantee all bank deposits, it was reported that:

(Quote from Herald Sun)
Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull welcomed the Government guarantee on bank deposits and promised to help ensure the passage of any necessary legislation through the parliament.
"It's a very important step and we will undertake to give the Government every assistance in ensuring that the necessary legislation will pass through the parliament promptly," he said.
Despite his call for bipartisanship, Mr Turnbull claimed credit for the Government's strategy.

Now Malcolm is castigating the government for the disquiet in the mortgage fund industry where investors are transferring their money out and putting them in the banks to take advantage of the government guarantee. Why didn't he speak up on Oct 12th, instead of nipping at the heels of Kevin Rudd on hindsight? Secondly, even if the government had fine tuned the bank guarantee further at that time, it does not mean that other undesired (or perhaps necessary) side effects would not have occurred. Thirdly, banks are regulated by the government and therefore the government should uphold its responsibility to the people. As far as I know, mortgage funds may not be subject to the same regulations and they probably bear high-gain, high-risk return on investment. Kevin Rudd has the wisdom not to turn this into a public debate with Malcolm Turnbull. Doing so would only erode the public's confidence in the economy and hence hamper its recovery.

Perhaps, capital flight from mortgage funds to banks would have happened even if Kevin Rudd had not announced the bank guarantee. After all, many mortgage funds have fallen in recent times. Banks, while also shaken by the financial crisis, are still seen as the better bet of the two.

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