Maurice "Hank" Greenberg, who was forced out of the company he built, AIG, by regulators and then paid $15 million to settle with the SEC, has an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal calling for giving regulators even more power and raising their pay. Also: "The rating agencies should be independent, licensed institutions, and the people who do the rating should be vetted to ensure that they have the appropriate background and abilities. This may mean going so far as bringing the rating agencies under an independent government institution and thus removing any profit incentive." Yeah, that's right -- if you license people and remove their profit incentive and put them to work for the government, they'll definitely do a better job. Right?
I'm no defender of the ratings agencies, but one can argue that one reason they screwed up was that they already had quasi-official status that insulated them from market competition. Meanwhile, the mania for "licensing" has gone so far that the Institute for Justice is suing to strike down a Louisiana law requiring florists to obtain a government-issued license before they are allowed to create and sell floral arrangements. Mark me down as unconvinced by Mr. Greenberg's arguments.