The Bank for International Settlements thinks that financial instruments should be classified like medicinal drugs to protect investors and prevent firms from excessive over-indulgence in potentially lethal or toxic products.
"The safest securities would, like non-prescription medicines, be available for purchase by everyone," says the bankers' bank in its
annual report. "Next would be financial instruments available only to those with an authorisation, like prescription drugs; another level down would be securities available only in limited amounts to pre-screened individuals and institutions, like drugs
in experimental trials."
I like the idea, but it would have to be a two-way street, with regulatory scrutiny applied to the financial pharmacies manufacturing the drugs. In this way, institutions suffering from outbreaks of hubris or exhibiting symptoms of irrational exuberance
- getting high on their own supply in street parlance - would have their access to exotic class A securities severely restricted.