Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Legalizing Theft - The New Capitalism III

Seems to be a rash of content related to "Capitalism: A Love Story" by Michael Moore. Steve Forbes, in the October 19, 2009, edition of Forbes had his own take, "Capitalism: A True Love Story". Steve's "Fact and Comment" is an excellent read. Positive points that he has made, which I have been harping on is that Capitalism is built on several fundamental principles. One is trust. Another is that both parties to a transaction walk away with a net benefit. While these are points that I can agree with, Steve continues to perpetuate the myth that the collapse of our financial system was caused by government regulation. Government regulation may have had a contributory relationship, but Steve overlooks the fact that it was the free-will of corporate leaders that created the bogus financial instruments and who also had the laws changed to allow them to work their "magic" with less regulatory oversight.

I have yet to hear of any regulation that "forces" someone to take a multimillion dollar bonus for issuing what has turned out to be almost worthless paper. A least Steve recognizes that "... a sizable portion of the assets created in recent years turned out to be "make believe," the result of an unsustainable, ephemeral bubble in housing and the churning out of increasingly exotic financial instruments. ... that created stuff ends up undermining the global financial system and battering the lives of hundreds of millions of other people. ... Even those individuals not normally hostile to free markets now hold suspicions that capitalism is fundamentally based on greed and is immoral ... "

Tom Toles, in the Washington Post published this cartoon, which is an excellent summary. (Click on the image to get a better picture.)

1 comment:

eee_eff said...

The claim that regulation lead to the current crash mirrors exactly the claims made in the 1880's that regulation was the cause of market disturbances then, too.

See discussion of this in Karl Polanyi's excellent book The Great Transformation.

The claim that regulation lead to the crashes now is as hollow as the same claim was back then.