Thursday 2014-09-11

Robert Rubin's Doctrine of International Finance as understood by his co-workers:

1. The only certainty in life is that nothing is ever certain.
2. Markets are good, but they are not the solution to all problems.
3. The credibility and the quality of a nation's policies matter more for its prospects than anything the United States, the G7 or the international financial institutions can do.
4. Money is no substitute for strong policy, but there are times when it is more costly to provide too little money than to provide too much.
5. Borrowers must bear the consequences of the debts they incur — and creditors of the lending they provide.
6. The US must be willing to be defined by what it is against, as well as what it is for.
7. The dollar is too important to be used as an instrument of trade policy.
8. Optionality is good in itself.
9. Never let your rhetoric commit you to something you cannot deliver.
10. Gimmicks are no substitute for serious analysis and care in decision making.

It's funny how 4, 5, and 7 are simultaneously both the hard-won wisdom of historical experience, and the bitter position statements of future political fights already lost.