Tags: Munger | Europe | trust | bankers

Munger: Europe's Debt Crisis Proves 'You Can't Trust Bankers'

Sunday, 05 May 2013 03:16 PM

By Dan Weil

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The financial crisis in Europe has put bankers' perfidy front and center, says Warren Buffett's
partner, Charles Munger, vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway.

"What Cyprus demonstrates is an old truth: you can't trust bankers to govern themselves," he told CNBC. "A banker who is allowed to borrow money at X and loan it out at X plus Y will just go crazy and do too much of it if the civilization doesn't have rules that prevent it."

Cyprus is receiving a 10 billion-euro ($13 billion) bailout from the eurozone and International Monetary Fund to help it out of its beleaguered state. The country was forced to close its second-largest bank in exchange for the bailout package.

Editor’s Note: Put the World’s Top Financial Minds to Work for You

"The bankers would have been doing even more if it hadn't blown up," Munger said. "Bankers . . . are like heroin addicts."

Munger also railed against high-frequency trading. "It is very stupid to allow a system evolve where half of the trading is a bunch of short-term people trying to get information one-millionth of a nanosecond ahead of somebody else," he said.

"It's legalized front-running."

Meanwhile, bad economic news keeps mounting for the eurozone. The European Union
predicted that the eurozone economy will shrink 0.4 percent this year.

While that's better than last year's 0.6 percent contraction, it's 0.1 percentage point worse than the EU's February forecast.

“Grappling with the aftermath of a profound financial and economic crisis, the EU economy is set to pick up speed only very slowly in the course of this year,” the report said, according to The Associated Press.

Editor’s Note: Put the World’s Top Financial Minds to Work for You

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