Friday, May 08, 2009

Devout Laissez-Faire Reagan Appointee Declares Failure of Capitlism.

Aside from greed, stupidity, and corruption, it's clear that today's economic meltdown has much to do with a general lack of transparency, deregulation of the financial system, excessive leverage, the financial engineering of overly complicated and opaque securities, compensation mechanisms that in the words of James Surowiecki, "even when people recognized the possibility of dragons, they decided it was in their short-term interests (even if it wasn't in their company's interests) to run the risk of getting incinerated anyway", and a blindly or naively optimistic view of free market capitalism that ignores the inevitability of market imperfections.

Despite all the evidence, many of the conservatives are trying to market their own version of why our financial system crashed, and that is that the crash is actually the fault of government regulation. However, there are a few "free market" cheerleaders who have reversed their Panglossian ideas about laissez-faire economics. One of those men is Ronald Reagan appointed, Judge Richard Posner, author of A Failure of Capitalism The Crisis of '08 and the Descent into Depression

The conservatives believe the depression is the result of unwise government policies. I believe it is a market failure...Without any government regulation of the financial industry, the economy, would in all likelihood, be in a depression. We are learning from it that we need a more active and intelligent government to keep our model of a capitalist economy from running off the rails. The movement to deregulate the financial industry went too far by exaggerating the resilience—the self-healing powers—of laissez-faire capitalism.

The depression has hit economic libertarians in the solar plexus because it is largely a consequence not of the government’s overregulating the economy, by doing so fettering free enterprise, rather innate limitations of the free market.” -- Judge Richard Posner, appointed to the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit by President Ronald Reagan in 1981, and one of the nation’s most prolific legal defenders of free-market economics.
I greatly admire Judge Posner's willingness to rethink some of his fundamental beliefs about free market capitalism, however, after listening to Robert Reich, who I respect immensely, and the Judge discuss it on Tom Ashbrook's On Point radio show, I'm not sure he (Judge Posner) is fully convinced.

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