Simon Johnson’s Sense on Cents Classic
Posted by Larry Doyle on September 17, 2013 9:15 AM |
On a daily basis we now get fed less than comprehensive if not fully distorted views of the last 5 years by an array of politicians, industry sponsored economists, and assorted other puppets.
While the airwaves and other outlets are filled with much of this noise, let’s take a step back so we can get the wide-angled view as to what has really transpired within our nation and the global economy. To do so, lets check in with Sense on Cents Hall of Famer Simon Johnson who provided a prescient view as to what was — and is — really going across a wide swath of our economic landscape.
In a Sense on Cents “past is prologue” classic, Johnson wrote back in 2009 in The Atlantic:
The crash has laid bare many unpleasant truths about the United States. One of the most alarming, says a former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, is that the finance industry has effectively captured our government—a state of affairs that more typically describes emerging markets, and is at the center of many emerging-market crises.
If the IMF’s staff could speak freely about the U.S., it would tell us what it tells all countries in this situation: recovery will fail unless we break the financial oligarchy that is blocking essential reform.
In its depth and suddenness, the U.S. economic and financial crisis is shockingly reminiscent of moments we have recently seen in emerging markets (and only in emerging markets): South Korea (1997), Malaysia (1998), Russia and Argentina (time and again).
In each of those cases, global investors, afraid that the country or its financial sector wouldn’t be able to pay off mountainous debt, suddenly stopped lending. And in each case, that fear became self-fulfilling, as banks that couldn’t roll over their debt did, in fact, become unable to pay.
This is precisely what drove Lehman Brothers into bankruptcy on September 15, causing all sources of funding to the U.S. financial sector to dry up overnight. Just as in emerging-market crises, the weakness in the banking system has quickly rippled out into the rest of the economy, causing a severe economic contraction and hardship for millions of people.
But there’s a deeper and more disturbing similarity: elite business interests—financiers, in the case of the U.S.—played a central role in creating the crisis, making ever-larger gambles, with the implicit backing of the government, until the inevitable collapse.
No doubt about that recap and in a display of prescience not often seen, Johnson foretold us what would play out in stark terms.
More alarming, they are now using their influence to prevent precisely the sorts of reforms that are needed, and fast, to pull the economy out of its nosedive. The government seems helpless, or unwilling, to act against them.
BINGO!! The 5 year recap in two short but totally accurate sentences.
We can dispense with the sound bites and clanging of cymbals by Wall Street’s sycophants. We have ourselves an under performing, rent-seeking economy that works for those enmeshed in the crony capitalist system that has been on display for all to see.
Simon Johnson nailed it.
Please pre-order a copy of my book, In Bed with Wall Street: The Conspiracy Crippling Our Global Economy, that will be published by Palgrave Macmillan on January 7, 2014.
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I have no business interest with any entity referenced in this commentary. The opinions expressed are my own. I am a proponent of real transparency within our markets so that investor confidence and investor protection can be achieved.