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Similarly, Europe currently boasts some of the world's tightest financial sector regulations, and its banks have suffered just as much, if not more than American banks in this recession. European banks made the same bad bets, the same poor investments, and the same over-leveraged mistakes—despite more regulation and government oversight.
None of this is to say that there shouldn't be regulatory change. The current regulation framework creates plenty of perverse incentives that stem from outdated rules. There is much to be desired in terms of governmental transparency and clarity.
However, the answer is not increased layers of government oversight. Giving regulators increased oversight of hedge funds, forcing the standardization of derivatives, or creating a systemic risk council will cause more harm than any good. Neither will expanding the Fed's powers ex post facto. Richard Fisher, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, told the Wall Street Journal last month that regulators had enough authority to prevent a crisis. They simply failed to do so.
A far more prudential regulatory response is to fix broken rules—like the government has done with mark-to-market—and to have regulating agencies do a better job of oversight for 21st Century financial products. In a world of continually innovative investment strategies, flexible regulation from a loose government hand will prove most beneficial to a sustainable economy. The worst thing Washington could do is buy into the false history of phony deregulation and create more oppressive rules and stifling agencies that extend our economic struggles.