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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.


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Reading Naomi Wolf’s book The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot today is an eerie experience. Written in 2007, it detailed the ways in which the Bush administration was beginning to chip away at the freedoms of American citizens. It outlined the ten steps dictators or would-be dictators take when their […] Read More

Chelsea Green: In the Media 2016

Oh, 2016. Where did the time go? Each year, Chelsea Green receives hundreds of mentions (well over 1000 in 2016) in the media both big and small. From interviews, to excerpts, to opinion pieces by authors we’re always working to make sure that the mission and message of each book is spread far and wide. […] Read More

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Uncertainty got you down? The political world may seem like it’s crumbling around us, but this we know: We can make it, America. Literally, we can make things. Houses. Gardens. Food. Below we’ve selected some of our classic how-to and DIY books (and some new favorites) to help you sustain your self, family, and community. […] Read More

Chelsea Green on Instagram: Our Most Popular Photos of 2016

What a year for Chelsea Green on Instagram! We began the year with 500 followers and are now fast approaching 4,000 photo-loving brewers, gardeners, cheesemakers, permaculturists, foodies, seed-savers, homesteaders, foragers, and more. Our most popular posts of 2016 say a lot about what makes you happy: mushrooms, innovative garden designs and techniques, tiny cabins, and […] Read More

Slack and Taut: Defining a System’s Resilience

A resilient future (or a resilient present, for that matter) needs to be slack, not taut. What do we mean? Core to the concept of a Lean Economy is understanding the need to move toward a “slack” market rather than one that is “taut.” When British economist David Fleming died unexpectedly in 2010, he left […] Read More
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