Posted by: Dirk | September 8, 2011

Zeitgeist killed HSH Nordbank, final report implies

The €800.000 report on the Landesbank HSH Nordbank is finished since mid-August, the report available here. The bank was left naked on the beach when the water went away, as a variation on a banker’s saying would state. Oddly enough, according to a local newspaper the bank’s failure can be interpreted as the result of the Zeitgeist. One has to wonder what moral hazard this reporting will create: “Sorry I wasted billions of euros, but it was the Zeitgeist, you know.”

Still, there has been no parliamentary panel on the financial crisis, neither in Germany nor in Europe (Brussels). If it was the Zeitgeist that killed HSH Nordbank, people should at least get to know what it exactly is, how it came into being and how we can banish it. If bankers got these huge bonuses over the last decade, and it was not their fault that the capital was wasted, then more questions arise. What was wrong with the system – why did everybody dance as long as the music lasted? What should bankers be paid if in aggregate their influence on capital efficiency is close to zero – or even negative? What were the (macroeconomic) causes of capital misallocation? Global imbalances? Income inequality? Both?

Maybe asking these questions is against the Zeitgeist, but the ghosts of the financial crisis will surely haunt us through eternity if we don’t even try to find answers.

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