Bursting bubbles and financial instability are apt to be the norm "for the next decade at least," an investment expert told a group of angel investors Tuesday.
George Feiger, chief executive officer of Contango Capital Advisors and executive vice president of Zions Bancorp., predicted the next decade will be "a cycle of perpetual turbulence."
He made the remarks during a daylong Utah Angel Investor Summit, presented in Salt Lake City by the Wayne Brown Institute and sponsored by Zions Bank.
Why so bumpy? Feiger points to a "severely damaged" banking system, a "hobbled and distracted" asset-backed securities market, "bizarre populist reforms" he called "unlikely to work," and globalization that "ensures a supply of more and bigger bubbles."
Last year, Feiger said, was "an endless liquidity crisis," but in 2009, "one more turn of this screw and we would have been back in the Great Depression." And recovery will be at least a decadelong process.
Full recovery will require that banks be recapitalized, credit once again flow and debt be paid down. That's tough when so many people and companies are over-leveraged. For example, he said, nearly 25 percent of mortgages are "under water," meaning that people owe more on the home than it is worth. That percentage is rising.
And while unemployment is the No. 2 cause of mortgage foreclosures, he said, the top reason is less expected and harder to deal with: People who can pay are turning in their keys because they are under water. With that negative equity, "housing prices will not recover for several years," he said.
Feiger also noted that the public, which holds banks and financial experts responsible, is calling for more prosecution, more regulation and more "public naming and shaming."
It's not good solution, he said.
"The way we measure market performance encourages imprudent risk-taking. Anyone who was prudent would have lost their job." Further, he said, "Regulation is always limited in effectiveness."
As for the promise of more regulators and government action, the most talented people don't usually choose government and its pay scale over the money to be made in private industry. Government, he said, "doesn't have access to the talents of Goldman Sachs."