lundi, novembre 17, 2008

But he too has drifted...

I'm linking a wonderful column from today's NYT. Written by conservative columnist Bill Kristol, "George W. Hoover" is a warning to Republicans: don't make the same mistakes you did in the 1930s! Or the perception of mistakes (grin)...

Take a look at this excerpt:

"I don’t pretend to know just what has to be done. But I suspect that free-marketers need to be less doctrinaire and less simple-mindedly utility-maximizing, and that they should depend less on abstract econometric models. I think they’ll have to take much more seriously the task of thinking through what are the right rules of the road for both the private and public sectors. They’ll have to figure out what institutional barriers and what monetary, fiscal and legal guardrails are needed for the accountability, transparency and responsibility that allow free markets to work.

And I don’t see why conservatives ought to defend a system that permits securitizing mortgages (or car loans) in a way that seems to make the lenders almost unaccountable for the risk while spreading it, toxically, everywhere else. I don’t see why a commitment to free markets requires permitting banks or bank-like institutions to leverage their assets at 30 to 1. There’s nothing conservative about letting free markets degenerate into something close to Karl Marx’s vision of an atomizing, irresponsible and self-devouring capitalism."

Less doctrinaire!

No kidding.

I can't often say that Bill and I are singing in the same choir,but I gotta tell ya, these words were music to my skeptical ears.

I also agree with the sentiment in the next paragraph. There's got to be some kind of regulation or perhaps some kind of punishment, beyond the inevitable trouble that occurs when bubbles burst. Sure there were many perps (many pimps, too) but a lot of people are the innocent victims of these drive-by market drunks.

The problem is: what kind of regulation would give the markets maximum freedom? Regulation of any kind is going to be like poison to some conservatives. If you truly believe that markets function best when everyone exercises their own self interests, then why should you have to have someone else checking up on you?

In a sense, I admire the purists -- being a devotee of unregulated markets is like being a totally committed atheist. It's very hard to remain devoted to a hard, no intervention perspective when all around you, you see a society in disarray from people who gamed the system.

By the way, I'm skeptical about Obama's disclosure forms, too ---you can't always screen for potential conflicts of interests. But I also admire him for trying.

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