RJ Eskow: There was a time in the not-so-distant past when working people were able to consider retirement at the age of 60 or 62. But households that saw their net worth gutted by the financial collapse can no longer consider that option.
Shamus Cooke: The banking oligarchy is so intertwined with the political and economic establishment that real regulatory change cannot happen until the system itself is transformed from below, by a powerful social movement. Pleading to politicians to fix so-called Casino Capitalism is increasingly naive.
John Peeler: One of the most striking features of our current global economic morass is that many Third World economies are weathering the crisis rather well, while the supposed leaders of the world economy (the United States, the European Union, the Japanese) are in deep trouble that looks to get deeper.
Brent Budowsky: One of the great sources of outrage in our age is that again and again, crime pays. The victims, from young girls who die while vermin eat their corpse to embezzled investors who lose their money, from tortured prisoners to jobless workers to homeless victims of mortgage fraud, pay the price.
Steven Hill: So according to Krugmanomics, taking on too much debt is not the problem – it’s not being able to pay the debt that is the problem. And Krugman’s solution, apparently, is to be able to depreciate your currency and/or default on your debts, leaving the creditors holding the bag.
Steve Hochstadt: What does matter in 2011 is that mainstream libertarians and conservatives think a film that portrays Jews as evil monsters bent on world domination is worth showing, praising, and promoting. After decades of retreat, the antisemitism of Ford and Coughlin, and of the Nazis, is back, on a screen near you.
Wendy Block: I don’t know if the world would improve if women ran it. Our decision-making and problem-solving brain centers are proportionally larger than men’s. Same with emotions, perhaps a mixed blessing. And anxiety tends to lead women to reach out to others, often at their own expense, whereas men generally get all “fight or flight.”
Joseph Palermo: The financial reform legislation currently winding its way through the Congress is a step in the right direction but it retains too much of the status quo that brought down the economy in the first place. The key problem, as many economists have been telling us, is that the top financial institutions remain “too big to fail.” Congress can enact all the regulations it wishes but even the best written rules won’t be enough to prevent another financial meltdown.
Robert Reich: As long as the big banks are allowed to remain big, their political leverage over Washington will remain big. And as long as their political leverage remains big, the taxpayer and economic tab for the next mess they create will be big. By all means, give regulators resolution authority and also impose the tightest regulations possible. But Congress and the White House shouldn’t stop there. Limits should be placed on how big big banks can become.
Michael Sigman: Isn’t it precisely the job of political, financial and religious leaders to imagine disasters and then prepare for them? (Plausible ones, that is, as opposed to, say, anti-asteroid Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher’s crusade for funds to combat “objects coming from space that could cause colossal loss of lives on our planet.”) And if their imaginations fail them, and us, shouldn’t they be held accountable — morally and, when appropriate, criminally?
Robert Reich: If any three people are most responsible for the failure of financial regulation, they are Greenspan, Larry Summers, and my former colleague, Bob Rubin. In 1999 they advised Congress to repeal the Glass-Steagall Act, which since 1933 had separated commercial from investment banking. By 1999, Wall Street was salivating over such a repeal because it wanted to create financial supermarkets that could use commercial deposits to place bets in the financial casino. That would yield the Street trillions.
Robert Reich: It’s now clear Lehman Brothers’ balance sheet was bogus before the bank collapsed in 2008, catapulting the Street and the world into the worst financial crisis since 1929. The Lehman bankruptcy examiner’s recent report details what just about everyone on the Street has known since the firm imploded – that Lehman defrauded its investors. Even Hank Paulson, in his recent memoir, referred to Lehman’s balance sheet as bogus.
Robert Reich: But suddenly the winds are blowing in a different direction over the Potomac. The 2010 midterms are getting closer, and the Dems are scared. Their polls are plummeting. The upsurge in mad-as-hell populism requires that Democrats become indignant on behalf of Americans, and indignation is meaningless without a target. They can’t target big government because Republicans do that one better, especially when they’re out of power. So what’s the alternative? Wall Street.
The public doesn’t know what’s going on because the national media would rather report on the sexual escapades of famous people or social trends or high finance (a recent Pew study of economic reporting shows the vast majority of stories about the Great Recession have focused on Wall Street rather than Main Street).