Saturday, April 04, 2009

21st Century Finance

Jerry Muller, a history professor at The Catholic University of America and the author of The Mind and the Market: Capitalism in Modern European Thought (2002) has perhaps the best short piece I have seen regarding the current financial fiasco,
Our Epistemological Depression. My favorite line from the article: Those whom the gods want to destroy they first teach math.

I would extend it to computer programming, garbage in garbage out, and the semantics of 42. What the article points to that I have not seen expressed as such is the new reality we can no longer deny regarding the political economy. Effective now, trust in corporations is folly. Sooner or later (later, I think) the government bashing Republicans have to recognize that the private sector is no more effective at allocating resources than government. The news is bad. It all sucks, and minus a new paradigm (which is what really needs to happen) the admittedly overhead laden European models will ultimately prevail over systems that fuel greed and stupidity. Who is going to advocate allowing the next AIG debacle, and the one after that, and the one after that? I’m not talking about bonuses. Clearly, the economic molasses of the USSR's linear programming models will not work, but corporate rape is no longer sustainable even in the short term as demonstrated by what is happening in Detroit.

The White House and the Democrats are struggling for solutions to a problem the GOP still doesn’t acknowledge. Milton Friedman is dead, John Maynard Keynes rules, and somehow we have to harness "the Google" to forge new terrain. Let’s lock the geniuses together in a room analogous to the mid-October think fest JFK created at the edge of the abyss, and keep kicking until the eureka moment occurs. Then we run over whoever stands in the way. The GOP, and in particular the state of Arizona, seem to think education is too expensive.

Oh really?


Blogger The Navigator said...

Thought provoking. We are on the before side of a breakthrough. One can never see the after side until, well, after.

So I take it you've completed your dissertation? When is the defense?

Are you leaving Tucson?

4/04/2009 8:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

X4mr's gone cerebral again. His dissertation must be complete.

4/04/2009 9:24 PM  
Anonymous Framer said...

Great, if your dissertation is done you will be able to come to my Tea Party. We'll discuss this "burning of money."

It will be downtown on the 15th with a few of my close personal friends.

Get there before 11 if you want to see the band.

There is no functional difference between the plans Nancy Pelosi is making and the designs of Nina Traceoff other than scale.

4/05/2009 7:50 AM  
Anonymous David said...

X4mr is writing a dissertation? What about?

Framer, did you read the article? Corporations have abandoned the slightest sentiment towards contribution. It is all rape and take by any means, any loophole, any obfuscation of truth. Bernie Madoff is the poster child for the American economy, a Ponzi scheme perpetrated by crooks screwing the system.

Our government is a whore and corporations are its customers. Unless you are one of the fat cats, you're SOL. I can understand people snapping and "going postal" with the shoot outs. People are starting to lose it. I'm sad about the policemen.

Wrong target.

4/05/2009 11:07 AM  
Anonymous Framer said...


But how exactly is that in any way different than what Dodd, Murtha, Raines, and Emmanuel have done. Are they the ones that are going to clean up the mess? They are shoulder deep in causing it as well and yet there is no mention of that here other than "George Bush!!!"

Corporations ARE ultimately accountable because they can go under (unless their government angels reach out and save them for more campaign donations). Government bureaucracies never do, they just get bigger.

If you think government is here to save us from corruption and greed, I would suggest that you apply the same critical eye that many of all political leanings are applying to the City of Tucson. There is no difference.

4/05/2009 11:27 AM  
Anonymous Observer said...

You might have to sign up with the Times (it's free) but Frank Rich has a good article about the firing of GM CEO Wagoner, and even more pertinent to this post is a Friedman op-ed.

I like what x4mr said about a new system. We need to break away from the old way of thinking. If Bush was anything, it was incompetent. So if government is inept and corporations are evil, what to do?

If nothing else, the solution has to involve intelligence. If Republicans want a future, I think they have a good one if they pick intelligence. They should jettison the religious kooks, the Limbaugh morons, the evil, hypocritical Rove scum.

I'm no fan of Pelosi, but think about the staggering stupidity of Bush. What kind of party nominates a vegetable for the WH with the personification of Satan as VP? What group dynamics could be responsible for total abdication of the slightest respect for decency?

I'm with Framer on the local embarrassment, and it is embarrassing. As x4mr says, what a fiasco. I have, party affiliation aside, reached the conclusion that Obama is fantastic. He is the best answer to the unconscionable abomination that inflicted incalculable damage to the country and the world over the last eight years. It won't happen, but "Eggplant, Inc" are criminals and traitors that deserve prosecution and execution.

4/05/2009 12:25 PM  
Blogger x4mr said...

I imagine we agree more than disagree, and the slime is bipartisan. Still, it is the GOP dating back to Reagan that dismantled what might have prevented the meltdown from becoming as severe, in particular the 1999 Gramm bill (I can't recall its name) that prescribed the disaster. Greenspan was also a major player, and Stanford's magazine this month features a story about Brooksley Born, who as the head of the Futures Trading Commission in 1996, rang the warning bell (loudly) about the impending doom, and Greenspan, Gramm, and the rest shot her down.

I will be in San Diego during your tea party. Best of luck with that.

The solution must somehow achieve the result of restoring intelligence and ethics into both government and corporations. What a concept. Initial thoughts are associated with using the Internet to create transparency and traceability that would expose all hanky panky.

Observer, yes. Bush was beyond horrible, and yes, Obama is terrific.

4/05/2009 1:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The bill x4mr refers to is the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which was spear headed by Republicans. Still, after the wrestling back and forth, it got support from both parties and was signed by Clinton.

The bill allowed the huge mergers that created companies like AIG.

4/05/2009 1:24 PM  
Anonymous Another Anon said...

Hmmm. Interesting blog.

What I regard most useful of this post and thread is the distinction of a "breakthrough" to a new system.

The breakdown is epistemological. Greed and unbridled short term gluttony has infested our ways of knowing and perceiving reality, a truly terrifying concept. I would add "blindness" as a key element of the Bush administration, even more so in foreign policy and still more so with the scientific community.

Framer's discomfort with the Democrats is sound. I assume he is a Republican. Well, he can object and nay say, but my guess is that he would have the position about ANY possible White House or Democratic effort to resolve the nightmare.

In the eyes of the public, the mega-bank-insurance-investment swine are to blame and the rage is on the brink of violence. In some countries, bankers dress down for fear of being identified in public. CEO's are now reviled instead of respected. We now resent them as incompetent f***heads (like Bush) who do not deserve their jobs.

Like Navigator, I don't know what the new reality looks like. Like Framer and Observer, I am no fan of Pelosi. However, like x4mr, I am clear that the old reality is dead. We will never look at CEO's, businesses, or the "market" the same way again. EVER.

A new world view must emerge. Oh, and the people that read this place must be smart enough to know that Wagoner's termination is symbolic? You do get that the President of the United States just fired the CEO of General Motors. I don't think the general discourse comprehends what just happened.

4/05/2009 4:08 PM  

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