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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.


Author Petra Kuenkel: The Art of Leading Collectively

More than ever before, there is a focus on new, collective forms of leadership—and an urgency to get collective change processes underway, all over the world. What’s behind the recent push to move collective leadership to the fore? Whether we find ourselves in societal or organizational change, it requires collective energy and drive to bring […] Read More

10 Books to Curl Up With This Winter

William Wordsworth was right when he said, “Nature never did betray the heart that loved her.” Nevertheless, the cold, dark days of winter can still get the best of even Nature’s most tenderhearted admirer. What’s one to do? We here at Chelsea Green have concocted the perfect cabin fever remedy with our suggested winter reading […] Read More

Top 8 Chelsea Green Books the Self-Styled Oregon Militia Should Read

The ongoing armed militia occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon is showing no signs of ending — so, rather than send them snacks, or sex toys, we had an idea: Send them a book! Better yet, send them several Chelsea Green books. Don’t worry, we’ve picked five key titles that we think […] Read More

Author David Stroh: First Steps to Becoming a Systems Thinker

Systems thinking is often seen as something relegated to scientific and business analysis – economics, resource depletion, and climate. However, Systems Thinking for Social Change focuses on how to use systems thinking to make breakthrough progress on intransigent social problems. We asked author David Stroh how this approach can make an impact, and how readers […] Read More

Use Systems Thinking to Make Lasting Social Change

What can be done when our best intentions create unintended problems—such as temporary shelters increasing homelessness or food aid accelerating starvation?After decades of helping change-makers in the nonprofit, public, and private sectors address tough social problems, systems-thinking expert David Stroh shares the pioneering framework that both demystifies systems thinking and shows how it can lead […] Read More
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