Alan Greenspan, for so long feted as the guardian and oracle of global economics, has had a tough few days. His faith in free-market capitalism has somehow been shaken. Apparently, people cannot be trusted when vast buckets of cash are waiting to be snaffled up.
Speaking before a Congressional committee, Greenspan said:
"I made a mistake in presuming that the self-interests of
organisations, specifically banks and others, were such that they were
best capable of protecting their own shareholders and their equity in
the firms… I discovered a flaw in the model that I perceived is the critical functioning structure that defines how the world works."
Ah, regulation. That thing that exists because we haven't yet evolved to a state where we can be trusted to not screw over the next guy in pursuit of a quick buck. It astounds me how short-sighted the people who run our economies are. They only ever react to the thing that's immediately in front of them. Take Enron – it caused a seismic shift in the accounting industry and standards of corporate governance, but the loss of jobs, pensions, lives and one of the (then) Big 5 accountancy firms doesn't appear to have prompted a wider period of introspection. What's that? We, the regulators and governments, might want to generally investigate industries where large amounts of money are floating around, as a matter of course, just to make sure there aren't a bunch of corrupt / greedy / incompetent fuckers about to screw over more people, you say? Lalalalala, I can't hear you. There's nothing wrong anywhere else, there never is, no we won't have to sort out another crisis somewhere else in another couple of years, we never do. Go away.
Do you remember six or seven years ago, when the anti capitalist / globalisation movement was really active and vocal (or if not vocal, very busy smashing things up)? I keep expecting them to make a comeback, to see a bunch of people in white overalls marching down Canary Wharf any day now. Surely the timing is perfect to take advantage of the general discontent with the financial system?
I'm mentally keeping 1 May free to take part in any demonstrations that may be going on (and let's face it, there bloody should be). Thankfully, 1 May 2009 is a Friday so I don't have to mentally keep 2-3 May free to avoid having to explain my arrest, detention and protest against the very paradigms that keep me in paychecks to my heavily capitalist and global employers…
(Yes, I have inner conflct. Yes, I'm dealing with it.)