Monday, October 6, 2008

Cogent analysis

Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz writes in Vanity Fair:
We are in the midst of micro-economic failure on a grand scale. Financial markets receive generous compensation—in the form of more than 30 percent of all corporate profits—presumably for performing two critical tasks: allocating savings and managing risk. But the financial markets have failed laughably at both. Hundreds of billions of dollars were allocated to home loans beyond Americans’ ability to pay. And rather than managing risk, the financial markets created more risk. The failure of our financial system to do what it is supposed to do matches in destructive grandeur the macro-economic failures of the Great Depression.
Let's take a moment to contemplate the idea that 30% of all the profits generated by corporate America goes to our financial markets. That fact alone makes Wall Street's failures utterly shameful.

He goes on to describe how blind faith in unregulated financial markets got us into this swamp -- that and the corollary belief that government is always bad. He doesn't say it in so many words, but the extremist market ideologues' argument is analogous to asserting that baseball would be a much better game if only we got rid of the umpires.

Full text is here.

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