Too Big

In a critique of the banking industry, John Kay writes:

At Oxford university, I often hear people say there is nothing wrong with the system: the problem is the vice-chancellor/master/bursar/ university officials. And, in a sense, they are right. If the vice-chancellor had the wisdom of Socrates, the political skills of Machiavelli and the leadership qualities of Winston Churchill, not to mention the patience of Job, he or she would be very likely to be able to fulfil the conflicting demands of the post. But such paragons are few and far between. In the meantime we must try to find structures that can be operated by ordinary mortals.

We hear a lot about banks being too big to fail, but Kay’s insight is that they may be too big (too complex) to manage.

Well, if some banks are too big to manage, the entire economy is certainly too big to manage. Even our government is too big to manage. However much I moan about President Obama’s policy, I must admit that he is only mortal. Our government has grown too big and too complex to be run by mere mortals. Clearly we need to downsize government – but I can’t see how that can possibly happen. The national mood seems to be to keep enlarging.


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