Free markets and their attentive politicians are always serving up something new. May’s service — an 872 point Dow Jones blowout — clearly dampens recovery hopes. Is it right that financial markets impact the underlying economy so remarkably? Could a different financial architecture help mitigate this problem — an architecture that does not shortchange honorable merit when it comes to financial rewards?
The market’s recent plunge to new closing lows complicates the recovery picture for many market bulls, including people who believe the regulatory reforms underway will eventually cure whatever ails us. Recent market action — including the May 6 ‘Flash-Crash’ — should be unsettling to individuals who think free market mechanisms are all we need.
Congress appeared taken by surprise in October of 2008 as the financial crisis on Wall Street unfolded. Congress was in a state of shock and awe, amazed to see their policymaking implicated in the speculative bubble and its collapse. But why were they surprised? How did these legislative engineers fail to see the hazards of their fiscal deficits? Had they been pawns? Were they errantly advised? Or were they led astray by false theories and their own greed?
So-called “experts” have led us into modern era minefields. If experts are ruining the world, to whom do we turn? Plutocrats? Special interests and their politicians? The uneducated masses? Organized religion run amuck? Ancient philosophers? Or something else? It’s time for America and the world to get serious about the foundations of good governance. Change is coming like a locomotive.
How much time will elapse until California becomes America’s Greece? If the EU thinks it necessary to bail out one of Europe’s most profligate state economies, will the U.S. face the same perceived necessity with one of our wayward state governments?
President Obama’s nomination of Elena Kagan to the U.S. Supreme Court is, essentially, the same type of governing act as the EU decision to bail out European banks vulnerable to the Greek crisis. In both instances political leadership serves the interests of financial elites — plutocracy advancing while veiled by supposedly democratic institutions. In both cases the power of government grows as it defends the critical interests of financial policy overlords.
David Weidner provides a valuable public service in his insightful fictional account of Warren Buffett’s creeping (moral) blindness. Making billions — tick, tick, tick — by sleeping with the enemy is no American ideal. Seeking to prosper justly in ways constructive to the nation’s sustainable well-being and economic independence is a laudable ideal — an ideal that Buffett, perhaps, is forgetting as he tries to explain away some of Wall Street’s sins.