Schwarzman: Fix The Markets in Seven Steps

Last week, I criticized Stephen Schwarzman for a speech given at the North American Venture Capital Forum in Quebec City. Part of my complaint was that the Blackstone boss mostly ignored private equity, except for some rosy talk about how the economic downturn should produce good buying opportunities over the next year or two. My bigger bitch, however, was that Schwarzman spent most of his time talking about well-known history (Fannie/Freddie, Bear, Lehman, TARP, etc.), rather than a prescription of what needs to happen next.

I suggested he was either being lazy or condescending (to the largely-Canadian crowd), but perhaps he just didn’t want to break embargo on an Op-Ed that appeared in today’s Wall Street Journal.

In it, Schwarzman lays out seven principles to “guide reform, here and abroad.” The global bent is particularly important, as Schwarzman correctly emphasizes the troubles that arise when a global market plays by regional rules. His seven principles are:

  1. “Finalize a common set of accounting principles across borders”
  2. Standardize and streamline financial regulatory regime structures in the world’s major markets. The current U.S. system, for example, is a “hodgepodge.”
  3. Full transparancy for financial statements.
  4. Full disclosure of all financial instruments.
  5. Regulator should have oversight of all financial institutions participating in markets. He mentions hedge funds, but this also would seemingly apply to private equity firms.
  6. Dump mark-to-market accounting for “hard-to-value assets.” I continue to be mixed on this, and would be curious to hear what Schwarzman thinks should replace mark-to-market for such assets (if anything).
  7. Move to a “principles-based regulatory system rather than a rules-based system.”

You can read Schwarzman’s entire piece here.