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Kuttner: Bush’s Financial Rescue (Non-)Strategy

Robert Kuttner, our favorite no-nonsense economic expert and author of Obama’s Challenge: America’s Economic Crisis and the Power of a Transformative Presidency, has an Op-Ed in today’s Boston Globe. He warns that the current financial crisis facing this country calls for “combined government recapitalization with tough regulation,” similar to what Franklin Roosevelt did in the 1930s. “But,” he continues, “the government-loathing Bush administration has pumped in capital only in fits and starts, and remains allergic to regulation.” Good luck, Economy!
Bush’s treasury secretary, Henry Paulson, former CEO of Goldman Sachs, went to Washington in 2006 with a blueprint for even less government involvement with Wall Street, not more. In the improbable role of emergency government financial czar, Paulson ran the rescues in the manner of a private investment banker. He viewed each collapse as an occasion for a merger, acquisition, or restructuring. Flying without a regulatory compass, Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke extended taxpayer money and lines of credit from the Fed to get through each crisis of the day. Their strategy was to find white knights and erect firewalls. If Bear Stearns could be saved from bankruptcy by a shotgun merger with JPMorgan Chase, then all of Bear’s creditors on Wall Street would not take a hit. If Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac could be rescued with $200 billion of taxpayer money, maybe the mortgage crisis would not deepen. If the Fed could advance enough credit to brokerages and investment bankers that were not even part of the Fed system, maybe it would buy time to clean up their balance sheets. The strategy boiled down to allowing Wall Street to privatize the gains while government socialized the losses. After the fact – after more than a decade of letting Wall Street operate like a casino – the government had little choice: If a sufficiently large bank went bust, it could take the whole system down with it.
Read the whole article here.


Economic Development is Broken. Here’s How to Fix It

Economic development today is completely broken. That’s the argument of author Michael Shuman in his new book, The Local Economy Solution. The singular focus on attracting global corporations is not just ineffective but counterproductive, Shuman argues, especially given the huge opportunity costs. Indeed, it’s not far-fetched to suggest that the best way most communities can […] Read More..

5 Shareable Strategies for Creating Climate Action

Frustrated about climate change? You’re not alone. Most people in our society find themselves somewhere on the spectrum of depressed about our climate situation to flat-out denying that it exists. In fact, the more information about global warming that piles up, the less we seem to do to combat it. What is the reason for this […] Read More..

A Mini-Festo for Earth Day – Rebuild the Foodshed

For the past month, author Philip Ackerman-Leist has been on a Twitter MiniFesto campaign – each day sending out a new tweet designed to spark conversation and pass along some lessons he learned whilst working on his last book, Rebuilding the Foodshed. You might also know Philip as the author of his memoir Up Tunket […] Read More..

Books in the News: ‘The Tao of Vegetable Gardening’ & More!

What does Taoism have to do with gardening? That question is being answered in The Washington Post this week with a lengthy profile of Chelsea Green author Carol Deppe—gardener, plant breeder, seed expert, and geneticist based in Oregon—and her new book The Tao of Vegetable Gardening. “Once I read The Tao of Vegetable Gardening, with its […] Read More..

Depressed about Climate Change? Good. Here’s How to Take Action

The facts about climate change are settled. Mostly. In fact, the news seems to get worse, and more urgent, every day. Yet, the more the facts stack up, the less resolve many people seem to have about getting behind solutions that will stem, or turn, the tide. What gives? In What We Think About When […] Read More..