Monday, September 15, 2008

Speculative capitalism in crisis

Last night I saw a 38-year-old movie that constitutes, among other things, a meditative, dreamy indictment of capitalism, or at least a certain side of it. Today, Wall Street was in free fall. Hmm....

(The movie was Antonioni's gorgeous Zabriskie Point, on which MGM, incidentally, lost millions. More reflection on it later, perhaps, when the blogging muses are in a better mood.)


Anonymous said...

Are you going to write something about the craziness that is going on in the international financial system. How do we understand this? Why are these 'big boys' on Wall Street crashing? Why now? Is this going to spread? I for one would appreciate something that a layperson could understand. NYT has been better than Wash Post, but something more rudimentary would be nice.

LFC said...

A lack of competence really, coupled perhaps with lack of energy to remedy it, has prevented my posting on this. To put it bluntly, the range of topics I consider myself even marginally qualified to pontificate on is limited. The blogosphere is full of discussion of the financial crisis, but nothing I've seen so far has bowled me over; however, I've not made a systematic survey.

The roots of the crisis, many people seem agreed, lie partly in years or decades of lax (or no) oversight and a very antiquated regulatory system that has not even tried to keep pace with new instruments, new ways of packaging and selling debt, etc. It now appears that, when the dust clears, there will be a significant amt of re-regulation, including perhaps a new govt agency to try to wring the bad debt out of the system. (Plus one thing that seems clear is we will be paying for this for a long time.)

Cribbing from P. Solman (PBS NewsHour), among many others, it's also unclear whether investment banking in the form it has taken in the recent period will survive (of the major U.S.-based investment banking firms, only 2 now remain as independent/functioning entities, and at least one of those two has been rumored to be in merger talks w a 'conventional' bank).

On a political note, I was not encouraged to see Obama appear before the cameras surrounded by, among others, Lawrence Summers and (especially) Robert Rubin. Not unexpected, but not a good sign either. (Recall Rubin's role in effectively nudging or pushing Clinton to the right on economic policy from the opening days of his administration.)

On the crisis in longer-term perspective, I'll be interested to see what if anything Wallerstein says about it, perhaps also the NLR, etc.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, LFC>