<img src="http://larvatusprodeo.net/wp-content/uploads/2008/10/fdr.jpg" align=left One point of view that’s been expressed about the financial markets crisis can be summed up by something I read at Crooks & Liars today:
Have you noticed that every person suddenly knows everything there is to know about how the economy works? Wow, it’s all so simple.
Maybe there’s a point there, but not the one John Amato thinks he’s making. I’ve consistently been of the view that the economy should be a subject for civic and political discussion, and that we shouldn’t hold back because of the “not an economist!” cries that sometimes echo around the place. If one of the continuing problems with the US financial sector is the lack of transparency which is causing the crisis of solvency – because no one still knows where all the securitised bodies are buried – so too a bit of transparency in demystifying the fiscal arcana whose complexity was part of the reason for this mess should be welcomed.
So, with that in mind, I wanted to share some links (from econobloggers and non-economists both) I’ve found particularly insightful and interesting over the last few days.
First, Tyler Cowan’s take at Marginal Revolution is succinct and informative.
Secondly there’s no lack of alternative proposals to the TARP bailout around in the blogosphere. I haven’t reviewed all of these carefully, and there are a lot more out there, but there are some samples at Crooks & Liars and Boztopia. It’s good to see some policy thinking going on among online activists as well as political pointscoring. That leads me to my next theme – which is exemplified in this post from Ian Welsh at Firedoglake – the indictment of the neoliberal consensus for what’s gone down and a call for a new New Deal. FDR’s getting more than a few hat tips at the moment, and Barack Obama has certainly made the first part of the case, and it may not be entirely wishful thinking to expect an Obama administration – it one eventuates – to make a genuine attempt to reshape the governing structures and logics of the American economy. The enormous bill that’s being presented to the taxpayers may provide the political opening.
Publius at Obsidian Wings also argues for the possibility of a “Progressive Moment”.
Of course, it’s also possible that an Obama administration would be Clintonomics as usual. We’ll see, but the discussion itself will hopefully build some momentum.
It’s hard to see how the immiseration of the American middle class can be permitted to continue (I don’t expect any real action from the Democratic Party on actual poverty) for another four years, if the culture wars card fails to trump economics.
On a somewhat more theoretical note, it’s also pleasing to see attention being paid to the work of Karl Polanyi and his work back in the 1940s on the constructedness of markets. At the same site, Saskia Sassen joins the new New Deal chorus and calls for a refocusing of policy on the real economy.