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Default The Language of Looting (how the word free market became twisted)

March 13th, 2009, 19:06
Originally Posted by magerette View Post
I'm still in the process of giving this a read, Prime J, but just wanted to ask if by "he" you're referring to the primary author or to one of the authors whose arguments he's quoting, since the link skips to the Clive Crook commentary. (This is a very cogent article, btw—bookmarked the site)
The primary one (boldface mine):

This reinforces a near-universal finding of the relevant literature in political economy as I read it. While there is some diffusion of policy lessons across states, it tends to have limited consequences. Different countries respond to common shocks in very different ways, because of their existing institutional structures. National economic trajectories are quite robust. Even in major crises, advanced capitalist countries tend to tinker around the edges of their institutional systems rather than opt for wholesale reform, let alone converging on a perceived ‘better national model’ elsewhere.

And this is what is happening in the US. The Obama proposals are not particularly radical departures from existing practice in the US. They are certainly nothing like traditional European social democracy. Even David Brooks effectively acknowledges this, when he says that they are potentially problematic in combination rather than individually. They aren’t going to set the US on a different national trajectory, let alone make it ‘French’ or ‘European.’ Some of us might like to see this happen, but it isn’t going to, even given the ideological trauma that the US is undergoing. And arguing that American individualism is likely to wilt if exposed to nasty foreign influences smacks more of a kind of capitalist-road José Bové-ism than any serious kind of intellectual analysis.
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March 30th, 2009, 19:13
Interesting mostly biographical article in Newsweek on Paul Krugman, who's increasingly vocal stance on the zombie banks and criticism of the administration is getting quite a bit of press. Here's a short snip:

Attack from The Left:Obama's Nobel Headache

Obama administration officials are dismissive of Krugman's arguments, although not on the record. One official made the point that pundits can have a 60 percent chance of being right—and just go for it. They have nothing to lose but readers, and Krugman's many fans have routinely forgiven his wrong calls. The government does not have the luxury of guessing wrong. If Obama miscalculates, he could truly crash the stock market and drive the economy into depression. Krugman's suggestion that the government could take over the banking system is deeply impractical, Obama aides say. Krugman points to the example of Sweden, which nationalized its banks in the 1990s. But Sweden is tiny. The United States, with 8,000 banks, has a vastly more complex financial system. What's more, the federal government does not have anywhere near the manpower or resources to take over the banking system.

Krugman swats away these arguments, though he acknowledges he's not a "detail" man. He believes he is fighting a philosophical battle against the plutocrats and money-changers. Although he thinks Geithner has been captured by Wall Street, he has hope for Summers. "I have a strong suspicion that if Larry was on the outside and I was on the inside, we'd be reversing roles," he says, but adds, "Well, not entirely. Larry has more faith in markets. I'm more of an interventionist."

Where there's smoke, there's mirrors.
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March 30th, 2009, 19:40
Poor PJ. He's got his economic egghead idol on one side and his #2 political idol (behind Slick Willie) on the other. What's an educated lefty to do?

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March 30th, 2009, 19:48
Foul! Clinton was never a political idol. I cordially despised him when he was in power. It's just that what came after made him look like Augustus, Pericles, and Abraham Lincoln rolled into one. And neither is Krugman — as I've said, my economics egghead idol is Joe Stiglitz.

I'll give you Obama, though. I'll be seriously bummed if he proves to be same ol', same ol', or if he fails.

On this score, though, I'm closer to Krugman than Obama — much of his critique is on-target IMO, and his plans aren't at all that unrealistic. The "8000 banks" thing sounds more like a dodge than an objection to me — it's not like they'd suddenly fire everyone and re-staff the banks with civil servants; it's more like replacing the board of directors and the CEO, and I'm sure they have the resources to do that. Nor are they about to nationalize all 8000 of them; about 4-5 of the biggest ones ought to do it.
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March 30th, 2009, 20:49
I finally read the OP and its referenced article and thought I would chime with a comment or two. I haven't read a lot of this thread, though (sorry).

Guys like Michael Hudson impress the heck out of me when they say things like this:
…today’s neoliberal ideologues are public relations advocates for vested interests to depict a “free market” is one free of government regulation, “free” of anti-trust protection, and even of protection against fraud, as evidenced by the SEC’s refusal to move against Madoff, Enron, Citibank et al.). The neoliberal ideal of free markets is thus basically that of a bank robber or embezzler, wishing for a world without police so as to be sufficiently free to siphon off other peoples’ money without constraint.
I mean, how perfect is that?

But like a lot of economists, Hudson seems to overestimate every one else's grasp of his subject (hey, it ain't easy!) and ignore what often fills the void instead. If he spent more time in the business world and less in the academic world he might have a greater appreciation for the very-real impact of naivety (and of course arrogance).

I agree that language divides us, the most obvious being the language of taxes and investments. Though they're simple ideas, I think most people today would agree that it's usually a good idea to consult an expert before attempting action with either.

And they would be right, unfortunately. If you were to ask them what it means to take a company public, most would respond with an answer that would get a failing grade in business school. And as far as taxes go, one glance at the tax code is all it takes to appreciate the problem there.

That would be the place to begin, IMO. Government should move to make taxes and investing less mystifying. That would encourage economic growth by eliminating a lot of waste and also work to reduce suspicion and resentment between classes (any classes).

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April 16th, 2009, 14:06
Another Daily Show interview that you may be interested in. This time it's with Elizabeth Warren the chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel that oversee the U.S. banking bailout….formally known as TARP.

Wiki on Elizabeth Warren: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_Warren

Great interview especially the last part of it. She is obviously nervous, but she does explain in great detail (at the end) about America's financial history dating back to the late 1700's and how regulation has helped us become a more stable economy versus a "boom and bust" economy.

I'm sure there are a lot of people who would disagree, but I for one believe her and hope she is able to accomplish her goals.


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April 16th, 2009, 18:02
I like Elizabeth Warren a lot. She's one of the few appointed officials that actually seem to care about what's happening in her bailiwick. This clip shows she's actually as funny as she is smart. Thanks for posting, skav.

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