In the last four decades, there have been only a handful of central bank and Treasury papers that I thought genuinely added to human knowledge. The economic-oriented departments within governments have in general been even more dominated by neoclassical orthodoxy than academic departments – and for good, bureaucratic reasons.
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PATHOLOGICAL LIES AND LIARS – THE STORY OF ROBERT RUBIN: HOW CLINTON’S DEMOCRAT WHITE HOUSE STARTED THE FINANCIAL DISASTER
I thought that Clinton’s speech at the Democratic Convention was disgustingly dishonest, even for him. The simple fact is that both Parties are owned by the Oligarchs and nothing is going to change until the system is reformed. If Romney is so concerned about the “47%” eating and getting medical care, why isn’t he equally worried that government intrusion into private capitalism, orchestrated by a former CEO of Goldman’s, pretending simultaneously to represent the interests of all the Republic was bailing out banksters who weren’t allowed to lose. Hypocrites all.
When it collapsed, due in part to bank-friendly policies that Rubin advocated, he made more than $100 million while others lost everything. “You have to view people in a fair light,” says Phil Angelides, co-chair of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, who credits Rubin for much of the Clinton-era prosperity. “But on the other side of the ledger are key acts, such as the deregulation of derivatives, or stopping the Commodities Futures Trading Commission from regulating derivatives, that in the end weakened our financial system and exposed us to the risk of financial disaster.”
“Nobody on this planet represents more vividly the scam of the banking industry,” says Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of The Black Swan. “He made $120 million from Citibank, which was technically insolvent. And now we, the taxpayers, are paying for it.”
Have we heeded Simon Johnson’s warning? Has he proven to be prescient? Is crony capitalism and the kleptocracy becoming bolder, more aggressive, ever more demanding?
“I think I’m signaling something a little bit shocking to Americans, and to myself, actually. Which is the situation we find ourselves in at this moment, this week, is very strongly reminiscent of the situations we’ve seen many times in other places.
But they’re places we don’t like to think of ourselves as being similar to. They’re emerging markets. It’s Russia or Indonesia or a Thailand type situation, or Korea. That’s not comfortable. America is different. America is special. America is rich. And, yet, we’ve somehow find ourselves in the grip of the same sort of crisis and the same sort of oligarchs…
But, exactly what you said, it’s a small group with a lot of power. A lot of wealth. They don’t necessarily – they’re not necessarily always the names, the household names that spring to mind, in this kind of context. But they are the people who could pull the strings. Who have the influence. Who call the shots…
…the signs that I see this week, the body language, the words, the op-eds, the testimony, the way they’re treated by certain Congressional committees, it makes me feel very worried.
I have this feeling in my stomach that I felt in other countries, much poorer countries, countries that were headed into really difficult economic situation. When there’s a small group of people who got you into a disaster, and who were still powerful. Disaster even made them more powerful. And you know you need to come in and break that power. And you can’t. You’re stuck….
The powerful people are the insiders. They’re the CEOs of these banks. They’re the people who run these banks. They’re the people who pay themselves the massive bonuses at the end of the last year. Now, those bonuses are not the essence of the problem, but they are a symptom of an arrogance, and a feeling of invincibility, that tells you a lot about the culture of those organizations, and the attitudes of the people who lead them…
But it really shows you the arrogance, and I think these people think that they’ve won. They think it’s over. They think it’s won. They think that we’re going to pay out ten or 20 percent of GDP to basically make them whole. It’s astonishing….
…these people are throughout the system of government. They are very much at the forefront of the Treasury. The Treasury is apparently calling the shots on their economic policies.
This is a decisive moment. Either you break the power or we’re stuck for a long time with this arrangement.”
Bill Moyer’s Journal – Interview with Simon Johnson, February, 2009.
Johnson also wrote a piece in the Atlantic Magazine titled The Quiet Coup. It may be worth re-reading.
Here is the introduction to this in The Fall of the American Republic: The Quiet Coup d’Etat in August 2010.
“The suspicions that the system is rigged in favor of the largest banks and their elites, so they play by their own set of rules to the disfavor of the taxpayers who funded their bailout, are true.
It really happened. These suspicions are valid.”
Neil Barofsky, TARP Inspector General
The Fed is not the solution; the Fed is a creature of the biggest banks, and very much a part of the problem.
Once again we hear a lone voice of common sense, and reason for reform, in this case Sarah Bloom Raskin, speak out forcefully for reform.
You may recall ‘The Warning’ which featured Brooksley Born, who sounded the alarm about the growing dangers of the unregulated derivatives market during the Clinton Administration. And who was thwarted and bullied by team Greenspan-Summers-Geithner.
And you might remember how the Wall Street Banks used the NY Fed and the Treasury’s Tim Geithner to block the reforms proposed by the FDIC’s Sheila Bair.
I do not think that these men who block reform and serious change are evil. Rather, I think they are just dead wood, who know nothing more than the system of privilege that has elevated them, and rewarded them, and which they are loathe to see change.
But the times are getting difficult, and so it is time for a change, which is necessary for there to be a sustainable economic recovery.
And in the election of the President this year the people are being given a choice, as someone so aptly put it, between an ineffective and compromised gamekeeper and one of the worst and greediest of the poachers. Obama was marketed as an independent outsider, but he is not. They are both owned by the system, each in their own way.
And that means change is not going to come from the top. But it will come nonethless.
If this continues the capitalists will eventually destroy themselves, because none of them will want to be the first that calls a stop. And that will be a tragedy.
Fed Governor Speaks Out For Stronger Rules
By Simon Johnson
July 28, 2012
By Philip Pilkington, a writer and journalist based in Dublin, Ireland. You can follow him on Twitter at @pilkingtonphil
During the Great Depression and the war years monetary policy in Britain had proved largely ineffective. In the meantime it was shown that government spending could cure economic depressions and return the economy to full or even super-full employment. After the war most political parties in Britain were thus interested in using fiscal policy to generate full employment rather than rely on the vagaries of monetary policy. (This, it should be said, is the polar opposite of our rather more desperate situation today).
Wily conservatives, however, recognised that such policies would mean the expansion of government – which they didn’t like at all. So they tried to resurrect monetary policy as the government’s tool of choice.