Flip-Flop

Bill Clinton Changes Tune on Derivatives

In a far-ranging interview on This Week Sunday, Bill Clinton confessed to past mistakes when it came to handling derivatives. The former president acknowledged that he shouldn’t have taken what he now considers bad advice from his Treasury secretaries, who advised him that the complex financial instruments should remain unregulated. “On derivatives, yeah, I think they were wrong and I think I was wrong to take [their advice],” said Clinton, “because the argument on derivatives was that these things are expensive and sophisticated and only a handful of investors will buy them, and they don’t need any extra protection and any extra transparency.” The flaw, Clinton noted, was that sometimes wealthy people are apt to make decisions with or without transparency, leading to “stupid decisions.” Clinton also praised President Obama’s recent health-care bill: “They’ll have to keep working on it and putting more cost drivers in it to take the cost down,” he said. “But it’s a big, big step. And it’s a wonderful thing for the country.” He also said he would “strongly support” an Obama peace plan for the Middle East and that “we need to do something to deprive both sides of any excuse not to engage in serious negotiations.”