Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Thinking The Unthinkable

Why weren't the bankers and governments thinking the unthinkable a few years ago, when this nightmare was obvious to the rest of us, none of whom are economists?

Financial Crisis: Think the Unthinkable

Totems are tumbling, shibboleths lie shattered.

When the US Republican administration proposes buying banking assets worth more than several European countries put together, you know the normal rules are being torn up. That means politics has to change too.

In the US, despite the rows over detail, Republicans and Democrats alike have been ready to think the previously unthinkable.

Here the Labour government has had to move fast to respond to changing circumstances, and more will need to be done. But the Conservatives have proved slow to keep up with seismic events, opposing the measures our economy needs. The scale of the challenge is considerable.

Dodgy lending decisions in the US housing market have infected financial institutions across the globe. Over-complex bundling of assets, lent round the world and back again, meant banks, credit ratings agencies and national regulators all struggled to understand where the risks lay. Banks have lost confidence in each other and global credit markets have frozen up. Add to the mix, wild fluctuations in world oil prices and increasing food prices.

The Irish economy is now in recession. France and Germany have experienced negative growth. And the UK economy is under pressure too. Governments, central banks and regulators across the world are rightly taking unprecedented action to promote financial stability.

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The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

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