During the run up of 2004 to 2007 world economies in general and emerging economies in particular have experienced the highest levels of consumer confidence and corporate optimism. The increased purchasing power driven by increased investments and confidence among the economic agents (I mean corporate entities and individuals) has escalated the inflationary pressures around the world. To counter such an imbalance in the system, the apex bodies around the world have resorted to counter cyclical monetary measures such as increasing the reserve capital (which may be used in the event of negative outcome). Such a counter cyclical regulated environment has forced the firms to incur more cost of capital than market requires. In fact during the boom times, given the confidence level in the economy, the probability of default though is very remote; the cost of capital in the economy remained irrationally high. Hence such a regulatory environment prompted the firms to shift to unregulated or less regulated activities such as structured investment vehicles which in a way caused the present trough.
Aftermath of the bursting of the bubble in the housing sector, almost all the apex financial institutions around the world resorted to the (traditional) counter cyclical monetary measures which are again proved to be irrational and may contribute to the potentially void results. The trouble in the housing sector has been translated into disastrous crisis in the financial sector by the so called counter cyclical regulations of the boom period. The resulted crisis has evaporated the confidence among the economic agents and drafted vague picture about the future prospects thereby steep fall in consumer demand, accumulated inventories and unimaginable job cuts. Given the present pessimistic environment, market demands a relatively higher cost of capital from the firms and financial institutions requires higher cushion in terms of higher reserve to tide over the potential uncertainty. Counter intuitive to such an end, the regulatory bodies brought down the reserve requirements of the financial institutions and virtually advocating the low cost of capital to the firms. The credibility of these measures in the event of possible corporate mass defaults is not only questionable but they may also pose the terrifying questions about the future systemic cushion… (to be continued)
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