Trading in the "Fever of Boom"
Letter to the Editor

Sir, Many thanks for John Kay's excellent column "Our banks are beyond the control of mere mortals" (July 8). He is so right that it is not a matter of stupidity or incompetence. As Walter Bagehot said, it is "the ablest and cleverest the most" who in the fever of the boom "trade far above their means".

I believe the explanation is at bottom simple: leverage. No one, no matter how able or clever, can run an organisation taking serious risks that is also leveraged up to 20 or 30 or more times equity, without crashing from time to time.

There is just too little margin for the inevitable errors and unpleasant surprises in a dangerous and uncertain world.

Alex J. Pollock is a resident fellow at AEI.

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Thursday, October 02, 2014 | 9:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.
Campbell Brown talks teacher tenure

We welcome you to join us as Brown shares her perspective on the role of the courts in seeking educational justice and advocating for continued reform.

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Friday, October 03, 2014 | 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Harnessing the power of markets to tackle global poverty: A conversation with Jacqueline Novogratz

AEI welcomes you to this Philanthropic Freedom Project event, in which Novogratz will describe her work investing in early-stage enterprises, what she has learned at the helm of Acumen, and the role entrepreneurship can play in the fight against global poverty.

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