Sunday, January 30, 2011

More on the Financial Crisis

This article by NYT financial columnist Gretchen Morgenson reinforces what I saw last night & reinforces my belief that we haven't done nearly enough to address these problems. However, this article by Frank Partnoy (whom I think was interviewed in the film) suggests that we might find some accounting yet for the numerous misdeeds that occurred.

Movie Review: Inside Job

Iowa Guru & I went to see this Oscar-nominated documentary film tonight. It tells the story of the 2008 financial crash from its from its roots in the 1980's to its current repercussions (or lack thereof). The film takes a complex subject and makes it comprehensible to a wide audience. I didn't learn anything especially new, as I've read a fair amount on the topic already. However, it's well done, and it carefully documents its conclusions. Some sub-themes, for instance, like the academic conflicts-of-interest, were especially well explored.

Don't go for any reassurance that the world has been set aright. Essentially, we established a perverse incentive system, moral hazard, totally insufficient regulations, and a culture of greed, and then we expected smoke and mirrors to make us rich. In the past I've commented on how traditional, "free market" economics has demonstrated its shortcomings during this crisis. Here, we hear and see the actual economists, like Alan Greenspan, who sold this bill of goods. It wasn't just an error in knowledge and modeling, we have some serious ethical corruption as well.

I will not sleep better tonight for having seen this movie. One of the really puzzling aspects of Obama's response to this was his appointment to so many insiders to positions in the Administration who had some hand in setting up and maintaining this corrupt system. C & I believe that he felt he could not afford to appoint rookies or outsiders when the system was on the brink of collapse. Perhaps this is a wise decision, but it comes at the cost of maintaining the status quo, for the most part. The filmmakers don't see much fundamentally changed by the financial reform bill. Better than nothing, but not enough. I suspect very much that the filmmaker is right. BTW, the film was written and directed by Charles Ferguson. I hope that they win the Academy Award for Best Documentary! See this film!