Arnold Kling s’énerve

C’est ici et c’est violent :

« I have always thought that the issue of the relationship between financial markets and the « real economy » was really deep. I thought that it was a critical part of macroeconomic theory that was poorly developed. But the economics profession for the past thirty years instead focused on producing stochastic calculus porn to satisfy young men’s urge for mathematical masturbation« .

Sa réflexion est plus constructive dans cet autre billet. Son insistance sur l’importance des asymétries d’information me parait pertinente :

« The asymmetric information strand has trouble getting very far. You tend to tackle one or two information problems at a time, when in the real world there are many. But I think you need it in order to develop any theory in which financial intermediaries provide real benefit to the economy, and in which the failure of a financial intermediary imposes real costs. Without asymmetric information, it seems to me that bankruptcy cannot be an interesting event–just liquidate the assets and move on. If new buyers are at a disadvantage in figuring out how to value assets, then bankruptcies are not such trivial events.

I think that without asymmetric information, all assets are liquid, so liquidity preference makes no sense. With asymmetric information, I think you can get liquidity preference. You can get financial intermediation that matters by transforming assets from illiquid to liquid by creating trust, and so forth.

That is why I have trouble saying that all the answers are in Austrian economics, which seems to say that transforming an illiquid asset into a liquid asset is some sort of original sin. My problem is that if we assume no asymmetric information, then everything is liquid. In that world, yes, anything that an intermediary does to introduce risk can only impose costs without benefits.

Once you have information asymmetry, then you cannot say whether the transformations undertaken by intermediaries are harmful or not. They may very well be beneficial, even though they introduce new risks as well « 

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