I write this column as I am flying home from presenting a keynote address Friday to the 32nd annual Burgenstock Meeting (now held in Interlaken, Switzerland). The Burgenstock meeting is one of the top international meetings on financial derivatives and attracts a mixture of senior regulators, market participants, and a scattering of academics. I changed the presentation I intended to make entirely in order to respond to Thursday’s famous Thursday keynote presenter, Dr. Hummler, the head of the oldest private bank in Swizerland. Dr. Hummler is famous for his monthly newsletters, which goes out to a select mailing list of 100,000 and often prompt significant discussion. I found his keynote address provocative. I was not adequately aware of his work, so I stayed up until 4:00 a.m. researching his positions and then prepared a new keynote address responding to his central thesis.
I discovered in the course of my research that Dr. Hummler’s actual thesis is considerably more provocative than the shortened version he presented to us. Dr. Hummler’s famous metaphor for the ongoing crisis places principal blame on financial derivatives. I pause to deliver a word of praise for the creator and host of the Burgenstock Meetings, the Swiss Futures and Options Association (SFOA). Many organizations claim to support a robust debate among diverse views, but the SFOA delivers. They featured a speaker, Dr. Hummler, who blames financial derivatives for spreading the global crisis, and me, a strong opponent of t