The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission recently published its findings in a 500+ report published on the FCIC web site. On the homepage, the authors summarize their conclusions like so:
The Commission concluded that this crisis was avoidable—the result of human actions, inactions, and misjudgments. Warnings were ignored. “The greatest tragedy would be to accept the refrain that no one could have seen this coming and thus nothing could have been done. If we accept this notion, it will happen again.”
If the truth sets people free, why is America becoming less free on the heels of twenty-five years of “free market capitalism”? Granted, banks could not do every last thing they pleased (although hedge funds pretty much could). But banks did receive enormous breadth of latitude for self-regulation. The theory was that the free market profit motive would facilitate naturally functioning checks and balances. Instead, the whole world got a taste of what happens when virtue sits on the sidelines while greed is empowered as the referee.
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.
It pays to look at where we’ve been if we’re to understand where we’re going. The U.S. stock market bottomed in the first week of March 2009, beginning a vigorous bounce in the month’s second week. By late March a breeching of the midterm downtrend line suggested significant changes in store. Nevertheless, most members of the general public thought the March rally was nothing more than a dead cat bounce.
President Obama’s national health care agenda is big, bad, and bold. It is also better in various important respects than what we have currently. However, it is fatally flawed. The seriousness of the flaws outweighs the plan’s efficacies and virtues. As a result, the U.S. Congress should reject this legislation and address the fact that the nation consumes too much expensive but ineffectual health care.
A massive amount of quantitative easing (money supply inflation) is underway in the U.S. and around the world. The Bank of England, for example, has committed 75 billion pounds ($111 billion U.S.) to purchase government bonds and corporate paper.
All right, not everything in today’s Farrell commentary is erudite or even proportional. Nevertheless, he does make some valuable points. It is apparent that America is setting up various disgruntled interests in the world to make war with us. The U.S. decision to monetize debts in the face of a deepening recession is problematic. Quantitative easing (as it is called) will expose our international friends, competitors and enemies to economic complications as our U.S.
The U.S. Congress ought to blush about the AIG situation as should Fed Chair Bernanke. The amount of money spent defending AIG’s bad bets is incredible. But there is something else at stake here. At issue is the question of whether the government knows what it is doing. People need evidence that the Fed and U.S. Treasury are operating a “best practices” recovery plan.
The goal of sustainable ecology means little without a commitment to sustainable economics. In economics the biggest issue of sustainability ought to be the right-sizing of an economy. An unsustainable economy is one that booms through the provision of debt additions, the health of the capital markets themselves becoming conditioned on the speculative idea of growth. Our unsustainable economy will in a few years produce unsustainable environmental policies, both coalescing to put us in worse circumstances than we find ourselves now.