Several of the Federal Reserve Bank chiefs took to various podiums across the U.S. Thursday to discuss the housing overhang, slow economic recovery and the negative impact of too-big-to-fail banks.
When Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke wasn't expressing his concerns about mortgage lending becoming too tight, Richard Fisher, head of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, was suggesting too-big-to-fail banks remain a problem for the U.S. economy.
Fisher clearly communicated a vision of a centralized banker that supports a safe regulatory structure, but one that is mindful of the overall impact to the financial system.
"I believe that too-big-to-fail banks are too-dangerous-to-permit," Fisher said. "I favor an international accord that would break up these institutions into more manageable size. More manageable not only for regulators, but also for the executives of these institutions. For there is scant chance that managers of $1 trillion or $2 trillion banking enterprises can possibly 'know their customer,' follow time-honored principles of banking and fashion reliable risk management models for organizations as complex as these megabanks have become."
On the housing front, Jeffrey Lacker, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, noted that residential investment overall is down. But, he said, the worst of it appears to be over with construction activity starting to pick up along with home prices.
But is it enough to pull America back? Maybe not, according to Lacker.
He added, "That said, residential investment is still less than 2.8 percent of gross domestic product, versus 6.2 percent back in 2005. We still have not seen the rapid rebound in housing that has often contributed to swift recoveries in overall economic activity in the past. Given the extent of housing oversupply that developed just before the recession, we probably should not expect housing markets to boom the way they did in many places in the past."