One of the more interestingly intellectual jihads I came across recently was this strange commentary in the FT this week. It was an incontinent lament against the evils of pragmatism. Never before have so many words been so eloquently spilled saying so very, very little.

Titled The excesses of pragmatism, I cannot tell if the writer actually believe his own empty tripe, or if he is truly ignorant as to how we got into the mess in the first place. Have a glance at this doozy of a  paragraph:

"A beloved myth holds that dogmatists (or ideologues) get us into problems like these, and pragmatists get us out. In fact, the difference between dogmatists and pragmatists is hard to draw. We got into this mess in a pragmatic way. We kept following a method that had succeeded before. In the 1990s, securitised mortgages and various derivatives seemed to offer a sophisticated way of managing risk. Whatever works gets overdone. The longer the system went on without collapsing, the more incentive there was to strip protective “give” out of the system. The system became more complicated, diversified, elegant and (as we now know) fragile. There were horrible excesses, but they were excesses of pragmatism, not of ideology."

Um, not even close.

You may disingenuously ignore the changes that occurred over the ensuing decade after the 1990s. You can vacuously skip over the legislative changes, the monetary policy shift, the massive change in the way mortgage underwriters were compensated, and the way loans got written. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t occur.

Let’s review the ideological underpinnings of the current crisis.

• Greenspan believe we could clean up a bubble, rather than prevent one. So he let one form in the 1990s. Went it popped, he tried to clean it up by taking rates way, way down.  Consider that the Greenspan Fed
maintained a 1.75% Fed fund for 33 months (December 2001 to September
2004), and eventually brought rates down to 1%, keeping them there for over a year.

• We also know that despite repeated warnings by fellow FOMC governors, Greenspan refused to supervise banks lending standards, as is the charge of the Federal Reserve. Hence, my accusation of nonfeasance.

• The  exempting of CDOs from all
regulatory scrutiny thanks to the passage of the Commodities Futures Modernization Act of
2000 was another triumph of not pragmatism but ideology.

There are many many other elements, but for now, let’s stick with just these major ideological factors. To Caldwell, since these somehow worked in the past, that is considered pragmatism (?!?).

Those of us who live in planet earth call it rampant and extreme ideology.

Here’s another densely empty passage, one where innocent pixels were needlessly slaughtered:

"Dogmatism is pragmatism that has stood the test of time. Institutions
tend to be forged in moments of crisis. Ideas that fail are discarded;
ideas that succeed are retained, elaborated and then over-elaborated
until they collapse. The problems of 30 years from now will turn out to
have been hidden somewhere in the parts of today’s bail-out packages
that wind up being most effective. If we are lucky, the most effective
parts will be the most morally admirable parts. But that is not
inevitable. In politics, correlation often passes for causation. The
recovery of the Russian economy after the rouble crisis of 1998
coincides with the arrival of Vladimir Putin in power. If a strong hand
coincides with prosperity, the public sometimes assumes a stronger hand
will mean more prosperity. Needless to say, leaders always think like
that."

Where does one begin with a paragraph so overladen with nonsense? Has Caldwell actually convinced himself that it was Putin that led to the Russian recovery? Gee, you would think a market guy might have noticed over the same time period Oil had gone from $30 to $145! Do you suppose that had a little something to do with the Russian recovery? Or is that Putin simply a genius?

Only ideologues are capable of such sheer intellectual dishonesty.

The author may be right about one thing: Ideas that fail are discarded. That process is going on right now. I suspect we are watching the death rattle of a certain type of ideology. Its a tainted brand called unregulated, market absolutism.

Good riddance to you.


>


Source:
The excesses of pragmatism
Christopher Caldwell
FT, October 10 2008 18:31   
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/0b48d8ec-96e9-11dd-8cc4-000077b07658.html

Category: Bailouts, Credit, Derivatives, Politics, UnScience

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

84 Responses to “Putting the Dog Back in Dogma”

  1. Eclectic says:

    Double-Talk.

    It was the dogmatism of Say’s Law taken to the extremes of Supply-Side Economics and its natural engendering of Hocus Pocus pro-forma EBITDA accountancy. It was all these things that brought us to today.

    It was zealotry and dogmatism and unbridled, unrestrained optimistic willfulness.

    It was optimism without a valence moderator. It was Idealogy from the starting gun.

  2. Ban Me says:

    Has Caldwell actually convinced himself that it was Putin that led to the Russian recovery?

    No. If you think so I challenge your reading comprehension.Did you miss this?

    In politics, correlation often passes for causation.

  3. Andrew Bissell says:

    I love your market commentary Barry but I don’t see how you can call a price-fixing body setting interest rates at 1.75% for 33 months “unregulated, market absolutism.”

    Not to mention the “implicit” government backing of Fannie & Freddie which was always and obviously explicit.

    Or how about an entrenched system of government privilege granted to stock and real-estate capital gains at the expense of savings and interest?

    Just because Alan Greenspan palled around with Ayn Rand 30 years ago doesn’t mean anything he or his central banker ilk are doing has anything to do with the free market. The people who have been most prescient in predicting the current crisis (Austrian economists and hard money types) are exactly the ones who consistently call for *less* government intrusion in the markets, not more.

    The “pragmatic” approach you extol is now calling for massively inflationary government interventions as a response to the current crisis. No time to think about the relative justice (or lack thereof) of throwing savers and renters under the bus to try and prop up asset prices. I guess we’ll see how this approach works out.

    I mean, you write a book called “Bailout Nation” and then want to blame what’s going on on some “unregulated market” chimera?

  4. jstanley01 says:

    Um, with all due respect, I think you need to read a bit more closely.

    In the second paragraph, Caldwell is saying that Putin’s rise to power COINCIDED with the Russian recovery, and that Russian the public is therefore likely to attribute the recovery’s CAUSATION to his rise. MISTAKENLY.

  5. DontTouchMyChickenSelects says:

    Im not usually a conspriacy believer… but did anyone find it strange that Condi Rice was picutred with Finance Chiefs?

    Why is our former NSA chief even being involved?

    There is something rotten in the system and it is more dangerous than what we are being told… meaning this isn’t fundamental or profit takin by traders.

    If banks are solvent why even touch FDIC?

  6. Matt Stoller says:

    Those of us who live in planet earth call it rampant and extreme ideology.

    Actually, those of us who have been fighting this in the political sphere have been calling it rampant conservative ideology. There’s an alternative, and it’s called progressive ideology, it’s not called pragmatism or centrism. In fact many of the reforms you lament were passed by ‘centrist’ coalitions of politicians in thrall to conservative ideas.

    Pragmatism in your political choices comes from being a progressive Democrat. Until there are more of us, you will continue to impotently wonder why politicians can’t make better decisions.

  7. jstanley01

    I meant precisely what I wrote.

    He is saying the public was blind to oil price increases, but not to the strong hand.

    its BS.

  8. BR,

    do you have a substantive rebuttal to this, well-argued post:
    Posted by: Andrew Bissell | Oct 12, 2008 12:18:45 PM

    ?

    For my own account: If we want to ‘fix’ this problem, we need to, as always, go to the Source of it..

  9. leftback says:

    Pretzel logic, you might say? Strange arguments from Caldwell. Only pragmatism and fundamental valuation is going to dig us out of this immense mess that the dogma of deregulation got us into.

    We have had a Tyranny of the Incompetent – in finance, government and the mainstream media. The few people on Wall St capable of doing real fundamental analysis were marginalized while the Top Performers reached for Extra Yield.

    We will not have a true and meaningful recovery until we embrace reality and begin a wholesale elimination of the PR wankers and BS merchants in all walks of life.

    The practical solution to $T of CDS uncertainty? Void them all – life and commerce goes on.

  10. Andrew Bissell and Mark Hoffer

    I understand your argument, and I am quite empathetic to it. I’ve spilled plenty of Ink trashing Greenspan, who seem to be finally getting the blame he so rightfully deserves.

    I just dont believe there is a nation on the planet ready to give up central banking. its tilting at windmills .

    Perhaps I am in favor of only Central Banks run by Paul Volcker, and the sooner we can clone him, the sooner we can have intelligent central banking . .

  11. Bob A says:

    Was it not all simply just a huge Ponzi scheme?

  12. Eclectic says:

    Let me add to my prior comments:

    …It was a supremely determined example of religiosity in almost every way that got us here to this point.

    It was the Greatest Story Never Told. It was First and Second Kudlonians, chapter and verse.

    Dogma is the only appropriate word that could be used to describe what caused this crisis.

    -It’s Greenspan chuckling to 60-Minutes how he hoodwinked the ignorant bastards in congressional testimony. It’s his former religious confidence that the system always seems to “muddle through” and thus evidently could withstand incompetence from the Fed.

    -It’s Slain-in-the-Blood believe in the Immaculate Ammortization of liar loans, little doc, no doc, fake doc and Pick-a-De-lay Payments.

    -It’s the string of hidden goodwill, put together in a daisy chain of mergers and acquisitions accountancy.

    -It’s the Magical Mystery Tour of trading financial assets and the hocus pocus believe that doing so would alone create wealth.

    -It’s the slope-of-hope that a world in equilibrium could be cut in half by the collapse of the Soviet Bloc, and that the bag of rock salt on one half, when touched to the quart of crystal clear water of the other side, would defy all the laws of economics and not make salty water.

    Shall I preach on, or can we have the offeratory hymm now and ask for converted souls to come to the altar?

  13. Andrew P says:

    Barry — while your analysis is excellent, you do overlook one contributing factor on a regular basis – the incredible reckless behavior on the part of the consumer. This was the main cause (or certainly not the only cause), but the abdication of responsible borrowing, purchasing, home improving, etc. of the average person was a significant factor in the bubble. Savings rates went negative, people bought large screen tvs for every room, and people bought houses they couldn’t afford.

  14. John Badalian says:

    How about dispensing with Dogmatism vs. Pragmatism,and observe stunning, breathtaking corruption. To paraphrase Jim Grant (in a 9/18/08 missive with the pithy title of :”Gold 36,000″) let’s never forget 30 to 1 leverage, no-doc, option ARMs and (my take) the Three Little Pigs – Moodys, Fitch and S & P, who for the requisite fee, would stamp any Boy Scout latrine with the royal imprimatur.

  15. John Badalian says:

    How about dispensing with Dogmatism vs. Pragmatism,and observe stunning, breathtaking corruption. To paraphrase Jim Grant (in a 9/18/08 missive with the pithy title of :”Gold 36,000″) let’s never forget 30 to 1 leverage, no-doc, option ARMs and (my take) the Three Little Pigs – Moodys, Fitch and S & P, who for the requisite fee, would stamp any Boy Scout latrine with the royal imprimatur.

  16. Eclectic says:

    Andrew P.,

    A good preacher has little problem converting the congregation.

    Read my comments on how this was expressed by Adam Smith himself in his day, and it’ll answer your question (at 4:25:23 PM):

    http://bigpicture.typepad.com/comments/2007/02/alan_greenspan_.html

    …and a secret, to all:

    You WILL FIND the core reason for this crisis in that posting, because Adam Smith understood it very well and warned about it, even as he wrote what most people think is the Gospel of Unrestrained Free-Market Capitalism.

  17. VJ says:

    The author may be right about one thing: Ideas that fail are discarded.

    Surely you jest.

    After the American RightWing’s ideological blueprint of the ’80s was decisively demonstrated as a dismal miserable failure in the latter ’90s, one would have assumed it was a lesson for the future of a huge mistake that never again should be repeated.

    But, NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO !

    After we crossed that enlightened ‘Bridge to the 21st Century’, the American RightWing not only dragged us back across that bridge but back into the Dark Ages of unenlightenment, and implemented the very same failed blueprint all over again.

    Zombie RightWing ideology never dies, no matter how many times it fails. They will always contend that the real problem was that the blueprint was just not RightWing enough. Their prescription for failed RightWing ideology is MORE failed RightWing ideology.
    .

  18. Jeff M. says:

    The ideologues flail and flail about with even greater ferocity knowing the end is near. It would be hilarious to watch if not so sad.

    Some people will NEVER admit they were wrong no matter the evidence or facts – that’s called IDEOLOGY. As frustrating as these people are, they are simply not worth wasting time on. They are to be ignored (and chuckled at).

  19. Will Divide says:

    How pragmatic is it not to look past the results for the current quarter?

    Not very.

  20. Bob A says:

    The biggest Ponzi scheme of all time and the true wackjobs/wingnuts/whatever come out and blame it on ‘a few unethical mortgage officers’ and ‘liar borrowers’

    Book title for someone:

    In Fraud We Trust… The Greatest Ponzi Scheme of all Time

    give me some credit in the acknowledgements

  21. Mind says:

    The human mind, a cunning faculty, easily creates intellectual constructs – ideologies – to validate instinctual impulses of greed and self-aggrandizement.

  22. Posted by: Jeff M. | Oct 12, 2008 1:03:13 PM

    who/what are you referring to?

    posts like: The biggest Ponzi scheme of all time and the true wackjobs/wingnuts/whatever come out and blame it on ‘a few unethical mortgage officers’ and ‘liar borrowers’

    Book title for someone:

    In Fraud We Trust… The Greatest Ponzi Scheme of all Time

    give me some credit in the acknowledgements

    Posted by: Bob A | Oct 12, 2008 1:08:47 PM

    ?

    b/c, if you are, take me up on my Offer:

    disprove this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4dpJL6ANnV0

    and I’ll give you U$D 10 000, as always, we’ll clear through BR–just say the word.

  23. Tony says:

    Slightly off-topic:

    What responsibility did the GSE’s have to perform due diligence on the mortgage products they bought to see if the ratings agencies were correct in their evaluation?

    a. a lot
    b. a little
    c. none, they were victims

    I really don’t know the answer, but a couple market fundamentalists brought this up to argue against such dysfunctional gov’t sponsored entities altogether.

  24. VennData says:

    About a month ago in the FT, Christopher Caldwell attempted to re-characterize the arguments of the Palin wing of the GOP (not a wing anymore, but the fuselage) by claiming that the political fight between people with “feelings of disenfranchisement” (typified by Governor Palin and the religious right, the rural poor, uneducated etc. ) is really a class struggle fight between “democrats” and scientific “technocrats” who have deprived Palin et al of their democratic freedoms.

    See Eric Idle’s “right to have babies” routine in ‘Life of Brian’ to see someone re-in-acting Caldwell’s goofy philosophy on the silver screen – complete with British accents:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9nl3t6EcbvQ

  25. Jeff M. says:

    @Mark E Hoffer: Nobody specific in particular. Any idealogue on the right left, middle or anywhere will do.

    In my arguments with people I know, I’ve just noticed these folks STILL never back down or admit ANY error in judgment or action (or responsibility). They go flailing about for false explanations (e.g. CRA) and fighting to the bitter end and their ferocity (and lack of respect for pragmatic view points in the REAL world that we live in) only grows with each failed argument.

    This is not directed at you – I respect your views and in a “perfect world”, we would/should be a more libertarian “free” society, but it will never happen because the real “libertarians” are too marginalized to ever have any real influence(although charlatans like Greenspan are all too happy to use libertarian ideology to further their own agendas and the agendas of the powerful), and if they do, they’ll usually be corrupted by this power and eventually game the system to consolidate power and uber-wealthy of the elite at all costs, thereby enriching him/herself in the process, while the system itself and masses are hoodwinked.

  26. cnbcsucks says:

    “Ideas that fail are discarded.”

    I think you are being prematurely optimistic again, Bar. I don’t think any ideas have been discarded yet. I don’t think any lessons have been learned yet. As I keep saying, at least so far, this crash sucks.

    Some guy named Gary Hager just called a bottom on MSNBC. Time to buy, he said. He said put me on record for saying it, so I am. I will again concede some suckers’ rallies ahead, but I want to be able to record how much a guy like this on “regular” TV (not even CNBC, but MSNBC) can damage regular American folk who do not know any better, because his advise is tantamount to telling families to rush back into an apartment building before the fire has even been put out.

  27. Marco says:

    “Or is that Putin simply a genius?”

    Well, YES if the term of comparision is G W Bush.

  28. Jeff M. says:

    @cnbcsucks: I know A LOT less than most people on this site (but have learned a lot in 6-8 short months), but why do I have the sneaking suspicion that if we do get a nice little rally (can’t see how that happens right now though) over the next few weeks that a good portion of investors (including myself) will be selling en masse into whatever rally we see? It seems that every time we get a little hint of a rally, there’s mass selling. I think we’ll only drop further if we do get any decent rally in the coming weeks. I know I’m stating the obvious, but there’s just NO (I mean NONE) confidence or trust out there. It seems systemic now. Not many want to hold equities over the short term right now. Just a hunch though.

  29. You blame the “unregulated, market absolutism” in your post while seemingly ignoring the massive government distortions in the housing sector, and the bipartisan zeal for extending credit to marginal borrowers in order to expand home ownership rates.

    You also don’t mention that arguably the strictest financial regulation in decades was enacted over the last eight years (Sarbanes-Oxley) and one result of it, mark-to-market accounting, has amplified the effects of the bust.

    One area where I think Caldwell is on to something is about how well-intentioned ideas to help the working class can turn into bubbles. Housing is one area, and I wonder if another one might end up being higher education. Every election year, politicians (mainly Democrats) talk about the high price of higher education, and how more has to be done to make it affordable. And yet their ‘solutions’ — expanding federal grant programs and extending more cheap credit — seem to have the opposite effect.

  30. Namazu says:

    The editorial was crap, but you continue to identify the problem without calling it what it is: yes, excessive belief in unregulated markets, but driven by a specific set of academic beliefs about efficient markets, equilibria, etc., COUPLED WITH confidence that enlightened mandarins can fiddle with the dials and play Committee to Save the World. Just once I’d like you to admit the possibility that a true free market ideology, e.g., as articulated by Milton Friedman, would have replaced Greenspan and his tinkerers with a computer, and that this mess might have thus been avoided.

  31. i on the ball patriot says:

    Wondering here, a few questions for the financial experts …

    Could this be a neocon financial coup?

    Is it possible that this is an intentional and well planned, drawn out over time, financial 9/11 (or even, a long drawn out over time global economic shock and awe), perpetrated against domestic populations?

    Is there any chance that this financial crisis just might really be meant to effect the long time stated (and now fairly well known in the political world) neocon new world order elite goal of; perpetual conflict and a two tier ruler and ruled world?

    Could it be possible that this might really be an intentional tanking of the world economy by a coalition of the willing central banks so as to eliminate the expensive and threatening middle class and replace it with a less expensive and less threatening law enforcement class?

    Would it be wrong to think that the same coalition of people that own and control; the mass media, the central banks, and the non responsive to the will of the people governments, would not try and eliminate the personal wealth of their citizens and engage them in fear and divisiveness in order to control them?

    Is it really believable that these key coalition players — people that have a track record of killing a million plus Iraqis without batting an eye — are know nothing simpletons who do not understand the workings of finance and economic enslavement?

    Is it really prudent to allow those who got us into this mess to lead us out of this mess?

    Isn’t it true that the only real domestic political gains of the people of America and the world have been made in the streets?

    Is the window of remedial opportunity now almost completely closed?

    Is martial law right around the corner.?

    Deception is the strongest political force on the planet!

    The bad guys many times pose as the good guys!

    Are there any valid concerns here?

  32. Norman says:

    The low interest rate period is not the only instance of Greenspan’s malefeasance.

    Let us not forget his main worry at one time that the US Treasury was going to run out of debt. And then of course telling us that the trillions of dollars in interlocked derivative contracts were not a problem and did not need either new laws nor supervision.

    And this was our Central Banker?

  33. dash says:

    The repeal of Glass-Steagall is another ideological shift that contributed significantly to the dire situation we have today.

    Can you spot the irony here:
    “In the spring of 1987, the Federal Reserve Board votes 3-2 in favor of easing regulations under Glass-Steagall Act, overriding the opposition of Chairman Paul Volcker. The vote comes after the Fed Board hears proposals from Citicorp, J.P. Morgan and Bankers Trust advocating the loosening of Glass-Steagall restrictions to allow banks to handle several underwriting businesses, including commercial paper, municipal revenue bonds, and mortgage-backed securities. Thomas Theobald, then vice chairman of Citicorp, argues that three “outside checks” on corporate misbehavior had emerged since 1933: “a very effective” SEC; knowledgeable investors, and “very sophisticated” rating agencies. Volcker is unconvinced, and expresses his fear that lenders will recklessly lower loan standards in pursuit of lucrative securities offerings and market bad loans to the public. For many critics, it boiled down to the issue of two different cultures – a culture of risk which was the securities business, and a culture of protection of deposits which was the culture of banking.”

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/wallstreet/weill/demise.html

  34. John(2) says:

    BR: I’m with you. Whenever the wheels start to come off the cart of conservative theories of whatever cast they invariably start this sort of dancing on a pinhead philosophizing. Think David Brooks or William Safire. It’s pure casuistry and amounts to a big fat zero in the real world. Meanwhile the conservative pragmatists are bailing water like hell, they have neither the time or inclination to read this sort of tripe.

  35. dead hobo says:

    You can’t outlaw stupid, even though you might want to beat the crap out of it now and then. Unfortunately, some conservative ideologists don’t have their brain’s wired correctly. Those who aren’t just lazy and stupid intellectually, such as undecided voters at this late date, have different issues.

    Some are just sociopaths who see Republicanism as a good way to exploit society that isn’t possible with Democrats. Some are bullies that see it as a means to exercise power over others (such as the Toddmeister and ambitious Princess Sarah). Many are lemming like followers. Most are really incapable of understanding cause and effect in a cogent way. Ideology is fact. Fantasy is real. It’s basically a cult mentality that only an enemy would contradict. In summary,there’s really just something wrong with them. None appear capable of intellectual honesty for even a brief time.

    And these clowns want to be left in control of the world’s financial system.

  36. Molecool says:

    “We also know that despite repeated warnings by fellow FOMC governors, Greenspan refused to supervise banks lending standards, as is the charge of the Federal Reserve. Hence, my accusation of nonfeasance.”

    The Federal Reserve has to primary responsibilities: Control/regulate monetary liquidity and regulate the financial industry. It is clear now that under both Greenspan and Bernanke it has brazenly abused the former and nefariously neglected the latter.

  37. Joe T says:

    Yes, we are watching the death rattle of market fundamentalist ideology, and let’s not forget that this gang created an atmosphere of ideological fear and slash & burn politics on Capitol Hill from the early 80s all the way through to about 2004.

    Their main ideological battering ram was the Republican Party and its noise machine of conservative media and think tanks, but hey also had a lot of complicit pawns in the Democratic Party, among the DLC and other “New Democrat” hacks scared sh*tless about where their next campaign check would come from.

    This campaign of deregulatory hysteria had certain captains on the Hill, like Newt Gingrich and Dick Armey and Tom DeLay. But also among the Democrats, there were the John Breaux’s and Gary Condits of the world. And Bill Clinton signed a lot of this legislation into law, under great pressure from the hounds of the deregulatory right, the libertarian lobbies, the CATO Institute and the American Enterprise Institute and all the other free market fundamentalists who issued report after report, press release after press release, and bought congressman after congressman, in order to clear the way for the greedy to be even more greedy.

    I know… I worked on that cesspool called The Hill from 1990-2002, so the machinations of this particular absolutist ideological group are no big surprise to me.

    And the sh*t storm they’ve created with their incessant drumbeat of propaganda is just the logical blowback from all those years of pandering to them.

  38. Molecool says:

    “We will not have a true and meaningful recovery until we embrace reality and begin a wholesale elimination of the PR wankers and BS merchants in all walks of life.”

    Exactly – I call it the ‘Great Cleansing’ – the last 8 years have saturated our media, our economy and our government with legions of dim-witted, righteous, and wildly fanatic sophists.

    Remember: NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition!!! ;-)

  39. Estragon says:

    There is an interesting idea embedded in the article, which I’ll return to.

    First though, let’s deal with the central notion of the piece, which is summed up in this sentence:

    Dogmatism is pragmatism that has stood the test of time.

    Dogma is a system of beliefs held in common by a group of people. The very nature of dogma is such that the beliefs must be immune to attack by positive logic. A general belief in god, for example, can never be disproven. Absence of proof is not proof of absence, and there are no circumstances under which a positive proof can be offered to attack that belief system. There is simply no experiment or event which can definitively refute the belief.

    Dogma is not simply an opinion, guess, estimate, or hypothesis subject to later revision or rejection based on facts which have yet to present themselves.

    Dogma survives because it gains adherents, not because the beliefs simply survive being disproved. Quite simply, a belief that free markets (or any other economic system) is better than another isn’t dogma, it’s a prediction subject to later proof.

    Accordingly, the central argument of the piece is flawed. Dogma, which by definition is beyond positive proof, can’t grow out of pragmatism, which by definition relies on positive proofs.

    Circling back to what I think is an interesting idea is the notion that pragmatic thought evolves in a darwinian way and ultimately unstable way. The author isn’t trying to, as BR puts it, “vacuously skip over” anything. The events BR notes are exactly the sort of thing Caldwell is talking about as “whatever works”. In the short run, they do “work”, but in the longer run they develop an unstable asymmetry purely by the operation of pragmatism.

    Dogma has no place in the discussion. I think the point worth discussing is the basis and extent to which pure pragmatism needs to be critiqued.

  40. Ritchie says:

    cnbcsucks: “I don’t think any ideas have been discarded yet. I don’t think any lessons have been learned yet.”

    You are probably correct, sir. A relatively small number of undecided voters will likely shift to a candidate and decide this election–giving us a slightly different government, which may or may not make a small or large difference in our future prospects. But NOTHING will likely be learned by the large number of people on the left or right of that relatively small center. It will take a natural catastrophe, an unwinnable war, or economic collapse to change just the OPINIONS of many people. Or maybe the freakish condition of some sort of tri-fecta of all those things, simultaneously, to change minds. And minds won’t change unless one or all those events has a direct impact on a person.

    On the other hand, a shrinking economy, with shrinking advertising budgets, will eventually impact the here’s-the-latest-on-Paris-Hilton crowd with new programming about how to catch and cook squirrels from your local park. Eventually even Rush Limbaugh’s $400,000,000, 8 year contract might have to be renegotiated.

  41. Gary says:

    I’m sorry, but this is one crappy and sloppy piece of writing. I read it multiple times. It’s like “Caldwell we need 500 words for tomorrow – make it good!” “Oh shit!”

    At first I thought he was going for a Kuhn-like analysis; then I thought an unintended consequences pitch. In the end the only thing that made sense to me is akin to Barry’s conclusion that he is trying to temper the failure of an ideology.

    For a Senior Editor at FT to say “Dogmatism is pragmatism that has stood the test of time,” is way too bullshitty for me and puts a cloud over the quality of FT’s output. He garners an “A” for obfuscation and wasting my time and an “F” for f*cking idiotic commentary.

  42. Transor Z says:

    Our local PBS station decided to air “Wall Street” last night. I’m not the biggest Oliver Stone fan, but in light of recent events, the 23 year-old film seems downright prophetic.

  43. leftback says:

    @ Andrew P: says that Barry omits to mention ” the incredible reckless behavior on the part of the consumer …. the abdication of responsible borrowing … was a significant factor in the bubble. Savings rates went negative…and people bought houses they couldn’t afford.”

    All true, Andrew, and elegantly stated. But BR has pointed out many times that the vast majority of people will always behave this way if there is no penalty for the risk taking.

    There are only two ways to avoid such behavior. Maintain a hard money policy by the central bank or abolish the Fed and let the bond market set interest rates.

    One of the interesting questions we have never addressed here is: what on earth are we going to do with all of these people who are massively upside down? Even Roubini says we need cram-downs and renegotiations so where exactly does that leave the rest of us – the 5% who didn’t take part in the orgy?

  44. Looks like Mr. Market ran over the dogma with his karma…

    /badumpbump

  45. Winston Munn says:

    Nothing fails quite so absolutely as does arrogance.

  46. Mike in NOLa says:

    Is it reckless behavior for Joe Six Pack to believe what was being pounded into his head every day by the talking heads on TV and, brokers, agents, and bankers?: a house is your best investment; it will increase in value; if you borrow a little on it, no big deal; the rise in value will take care of the loan.

    Was it any more foolish than believing the constant drumbeat of “stocks always beat bonds?”

  47. Roger says:

    Savings rates as reported by gov’t are bogus. They have never actually reflected reality and ignore many key factors. They haven’t actually been negative in recent years

  48. Andrew says:

    Regretfully, Barry, I concur with jstanley01 above: it’s very plausible that the Russian public gave more weight to the idea that the “strong hand” of Putin was responsible for their increased prosperity, rather than the rise in oil prices.

    And leaders do always attribute “success,” whether it’s lasting or ephemeral, to their own actions, like the fabled cock who believes that his own crowing brings up the sun.

    On a different note, jck at Alea has posted a wonderful YouTube clip showing Nassem Taleb excoriating Kenneth Rogoff and other academic economists who laid the foundations, via VaR and other quantitative measures of risk, for some of the fun we’re seeing these days. Like Roubini and some of your own writing here in the last few years, Taleb is in a pretty reasonable position to say “told you so.”

  49. AGG says:

    Educated thieves come up with a con they call an ideology. They talk their way into government, steal us blind, destroy government enforcement agencies, lobby (bribe and blackmail) congress to eliminate the last paltry protections from the laws and THEN, when everything is going belly up (except, the well connected people’s fortunes) they scream it was ideology or pragmatism or big, bad, intrusive government. Bob A. is right. It was a ponzi scheme. Yes, one scratches his head wondering why these people are so destructive. But that isn’t the problem now. Let’s be clear: The physical assets are still there. The redistribution of wealth to the extreme upper 1% was a government operation. We need to get government to tax the shit out of these people to get things back to some semblance of order. And last but not least, we need to put a lot of people in prison.
    Barry, you are right about how this all came about and how the bailouts for Lockheed, Chrysler, etc. started this “no more risk for the rich” game. But it’s not over. They want the masses to cover their debt. I’m not cooperating.
    Mauldin is in a tizzy because the letters of credit shippers need have disappeared so commerce is halting. All his “solutions” leave out the people who have been getting shafted on credit for at least 8 years. He wants businesses bailed and tough shit for the little people. He’s ignorant, blind and stupid. The little people need a massive raise. They don’t conspire to steal from government like the rich have. The little people are the only ones that are going to get this economy going. But I’m probably wasting my breath because all those people here who have “made it” are still too tied to “conservative ideology” (greed with polish) to see it. Fine, we’ll all go done together. Poor and middle class are used to this caotic economic situation. You vowel stretching rich folks may learn something yet.

  50. The Pale Scot says:

    “You can vacuously skip over the legislative changes, the monetary policy shift, the massive change in the way mortgage underwriters were compensated, and the way loans got written.’

    Could anyone point me to a source that details these things, like say, in the format of a list? I believe I have a good understanding of what’s going on but I ‘m unable to explain it in a reasonable way. Meanwhile I’m reading stuff like the Bush administration tried to regulate, but was stopped by dems in congress (Tampa Trib no link) . which doesn’t sound quite right. Thanks for any help.

  51. VJ says:

    The Pale Scot,

    Meanwhile I’m reading stuff like the Bush administration tried to regulate, but was stopped by dems in congress (Tampa Trib no link) . which doesn’t sound quite right.

    Well, it does sound quite right(wing), but it is not only incorrect, but impossible. The Democrats were in the Minority in both the House and the Senate, therefore legislation could not be “stopped” by them, short of gunpoint.
    .

  52. Winston Munn says:

    @ Mike near Baton Rouge,

    “Is it reckless behavior for Joe Six Pack to believe what was being pounded into his head every day by the talking heads on TV and, brokers, agents, and bankers?: a house is your best investment; it will increase in value; if you borrow a little on it, no big deal; the rise in value will take care of the loan.”

    Yes, Mike, the Foxes placed in charge of the henhouses – exactly.

    Our own Eclectic said this as far back as August 2007 about this issue:

    “what I really mean here (and what Adam Smith in his day clearly understood) is that the dealer subclass he admonished is able to gain their advantage by influencing the public itself to believe that they (the dealers) are indeed working for the public’s own best interests.

    In other words, in the context of Panzner’s remarks: Let the public believe it can reach down and take itself by its own bootstraps and lift itself unrestrained, as if by an act of levitation, into a financially derived never-never land where mere metaphorical neighbors can extrapolate wealth from each other in the thinnest mist of one-for-all-and-all-for-one-domhood.”

    Posted by: Eclectic | Aug 9, 2007 12:39:55 PM

    Or another class calls it: The Big Con

  53. D.L. says:

    Transor Z @ 3:03:03 PM

    “…Wall Street [the movie] … seems downright prophetic”.

    I wouldn’t say prophetic, so much as history repeats. We had financial panics in 1819, 1836, 1857, 1873, 1893, 1907, 1929, 1987 and now 2008 (WSJ.com, 10/10/08).

    Mark your calendar for 2028 (probably sooner because of the boomer retirements).

  54. VJ says:

    The Pale Scot,

    As a follow-up, for the first six years of this administration, the Republicans had the Congressional Majority in both the House and the Senate, and a Republican in the White House. If any of them wanted to DO something, all they had to do was DO IT.

    THEY DID NOTHING.

    However, the Democrats took the Congressional Majority in January of 2007, and on March 28th the House passed legislation to increase the regulation on Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac. Next they passed legislation to allow the FHA to provide alternatives to sub-prime loans from predatory lenders.
    .

  55. the libertarian lobbies, the CATO Institute and the American Enterprise Institute and all the other free market fundamentalists who issued report after report, press release after press release, and bought congressman after congressman, in order to clear the way for the greedy to be even more greedy.

    I know… I worked on that cesspool called The Hill from 1990-2002, so the machinations of this particular absolutist ideological group are no big surprise to me.

    And the sh*t storm they’ve created with their incessant drumbeat of propaganda is just the logical blowback from all those years of pandering to them.

    Posted by: Joe T | Oct 12, 2008 2:44:47 PM

    Joe T,

    Orgs like STATO y the AEI are, simply, FOS, they’re claims of ‘libertarianism’ are a canard.
    see:
    http://216.185.11.243/search?q=abolish+the+federal+reserve&site=cato_all&client=cato&filter=p&lr=lang_en&output=xml_no_dtd&proxystylesheet=cato&proxyreload=1&getfields=summary
    for ex.

    Again, they’re, simply, another facet of the Subtraction by Distraction Claque of Pro-State disinfo agents that rape & plunder the very, elemental, source(s) of Wealth( see: AGG’s post above ) in this country–what’s left of it.

    It is why I don’t care about the ‘source’ of the correct answers, it isn’t about Right & Left, it is about Right & Wrong.

    and to:
    Posted by: Jeff M. | Oct 12, 2008 1:35:35 PM

    Jeff,

    ‘perfect worlds’ need not apply. It is, simply, about Good, Better, Best. We, already, know what works ‘Best’ in building productive Economies and it isn’t More Centralized Control.

    Again, regardless of ‘Ideology’, Ideas are either Correct or they are not. These ‘bubbles’ could never have been, in the first place, without our, famously, ‘elastic ‘money’ supply’. There are different rules for ‘Banks’, codified by their chief enabler & partner in Crime, ‘Gov’t’, that allows them to operate in such a Fashion that would incarcerate anyone else–acting similiarly.

    Pretending to run a productive economy on fictive units of account is a conceit worthy of a Greek Tragedy: Enjoy the Show, b/c it’s, barely, just begun.

    All of the G**bage thrown at ‘Free Market’ Economics, and the, supposed, results thereof, isn’t fit for Thinking Man, let alone Landfills.

  56. ann says:

    Last summer my husband and I discovered our Vanguard 401k provided no protection in what we saw as hell to come. We found if we paid a yearly fee of over 100.oo and 25.oo(so sad when my Scottrade is 7.oo) a trade we could save our 20 plus year retirement from the vacume of a falling market by opening a vbo inside our 401k to trade stocks,etf’s etc in. This process took over a month and was full of form after form and a headache to complete. I am sure so that few who start the process follow through and remember only a small percentage of 401k’s offer this option. At that time we moved about 25% to the vbo side and got out of index funds and into the primary money market fund. I then e mailed vanguard to check and found out no mmf are not insured. We then moved 80% to vbo and t bills.That was about 45-60 days ago, today less than 3% remains in the plan side(limited index funds many with fees and restrictions and just try and figure out what they really hold data is old and many generalities) ,7% in vbo and 90% in treasury bills. We also have taken 70% of cash from local banks.
    Yesterday on c span a congressional hearing was held to look at how 401k’s are to be changed and the benefits /negatives of defined benefit accounts(almost gone in america ). I was not blown away when they announced 47-50% of americans have NO place in their 401k plans to save money for retirement. The congressmen seemed to be and most of the specialist .So 50% of main street can not buy cd’s or t bills or hard assets.These numbers came from a recent gov publication which was held up to the camera but I missed the title.The discussion was to offer a trade to main street out of 401k and into gov bonds set up for retirement purposes.This is just the beginning of a movement that I think Obama and the new gov will follow.
    Any return to the market by us the main street investor will need to see what I fear will take years to put in place. (Although I will continue to invest 10% as the market crashes in 2xshort and 2xlong etfs)
    The confidence in our system from mainstreet in general has just now been broken. This time around hedgies, big houses and inv banks hit the doors long before most of us. People were good soldiers and remained calm while all hell was breaking behind closed doors.It will take major changes and not all from wall street,
    a few we here in Hawaii have been talking about:

    NO ONE who sets the laws in place in DC should be able to own any stock period.How can this NOT be a conflict when you vote on a piece of legislation you have studied it for how long and you know what companies will benefit you also know who is in trouble who to short or sell way ahead of anyone else.
    If 401k’s continue all must have a cash place to hide as an option.Slowly people will see we have been forced to participate in a market where we are the most restricted of all participants with the least amount of information .I hear cnbc “average families” “joe 6 pack” etc need to be protected from themselves and if I hear them explain again one more time how we got here in simple english for joe blow(that’s me) I will scream . To be honest I already have.
    When I complained about my limited options to vanguard I was told that the HR peoplr choose the 401k plan. OK so how many of people in HR departments understand what is in a package that has been factored up and down to the benefit of others? If people on wall street don’t know a shake down how can we expect an HR person to see one?

    Americans have been a forced participant in a financial system gone wild.

  57. AGG says:

    The Pale Scot,
    Google Kevin Phillips. His book Wealth and Democracy explains how we got here. He even predicted most of what is happening now. He is very methodical in proving how the people that get us into these messes always try to turn their failure into a success through media control. When it doesn’t work, they hide. But they always come back with another tall story. This guy is a Republican.

  58. MeToo says:

    I second “Wealth and Democracy”. Great book. Everyone should read it and be amazed at how prescient it is to where we are on the time line of history.

    Another good book that explains the way the BIG CON works is “Web of Debt”

    http://www.webofdebt.com/

  59. VJ says:

    The two more recent books by Kevin Phillips are good too:

    * American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21stCentury

    * Bad Money: Reckless Finance, Failed Politics, and the Global Crisis of American Capitalism
    .

  60. CNBC Sucks says:

    Barry Ritholtz – You are not suggesting that Libertarians are Quixotic, are you, sir? First, we hear George Will call Sarah Palin “Sancho Panza” (which fits because neoconservatism of course is the illiterate close companion of Libertarianism), and now “tilting at windmills” from you? That is a lot of Cervantes for one week.

    Barry Ritholtz, I am shocked by your failure to recognize the obvious and universal practicalities of Libertarianism and its widespread successful adoption throughout the modern developed world. The immortal Proudhon spins in his grave at your insult.

  61. Automated Robot says:

    CNBC Sucks,

    Only clueless moonbat and wingnut idiots capitalize the “L”.So for you, that would be the correct form.

  62. Sufferin' Succotash says:

    Is it reckless behavior for Joe Six Pack to believe what was being pounded into his head every day by the talking heads on TV and, brokers, agents, and bankers?: a house is your best investment; it will increase in value; if you borrow a little on it, no big deal; the rise in value will take care of the loan.

    Credit expansion since 1983 has been good for us!

    It’s compensated for diminishing job security, stagnating take-home pay, the absence of guaranteed health health coverage and the offshoring of American industries.

    So what’s the problem?

    [snark]

  63. Sufferin' Succotash says:

    Is it reckless behavior for Joe Six Pack to believe what was being pounded into his head every day by the talking heads on TV and, brokers, agents, and bankers?: a house is your best investment; it will increase in value; if you borrow a little on it, no big deal; the rise in value will take care of the loan.

    Credit expansion since 1983 has been good for us!

    It’s compensated for diminishing job security, stagnating take-home pay, the absence of guaranteed health health coverage and the offshoring of American industries.

    So what’s the problem?

    [snark]

  64. Sufferin' Succotash says:

    Is it reckless behavior for Joe Six Pack to believe what was being pounded into his head every day by the talking heads on TV and, brokers, agents, and bankers?: a house is your best investment; it will increase in value; if you borrow a little on it, no big deal; the rise in value will take care of the loan.

    Credit expansion since 1983 has been good for us!

    It’s compensated for diminishing job security, stagnating take-home pay, the absence of guaranteed health health coverage and the offshoring of American industries.

    So what’s the problem?

    [snark]

  65. Mike G says:

    Some are bullies that see it as a means to exercise power over others (such as the Toddmeister and ambitious Princess Sarah). Many are lemming like followers. Most are really incapable of understanding cause and effect in a cogent way. Ideology is fact. Fantasy is real.

    Yeah, but “Who would you rather have a beer with?”

  66. Winston Munn says:

    “ideas that succeed are retained, elaborated and then over-elaborated until they collapse.”

    So that’s what happened to Glass-Steagall? I thought it collapsed because Phil Gramm whined so much about it.

  67. Alex Sebastian says:

    I would just like to point out that the author clearly recognizes that Putin didn’t have anything to do with the Russian recovery, hence the statement “In politics, correlation often passes for for causation”, implying that, according to the Kremlin, Putin was an economic savior, when he was clearly fortunate with his timing.

    Your opinions about the first paragraph clearly influenced your analysis of the second, a hallmark of poor journalism…

  68. AGG says:

    Well it seems our dear Pentagon hasn’t forgotten the good old days of “deficits don’t matter” Reagan. Yeah, Volker was there.
    Pentagon officials have prepared a new estimate for defense spending that is $450 billion more over the next five years than previously announced figures.

    The new estimate, which the Pentagon plans to release shortly before President Bush leaves office, would serve as a marker for the new president and is meant to place pressure on him to either drastically increase the size of the defense budget or defend any reluctance to do so, according to several former senior budget officials who are close to the discussions.
    Everybody wants a bailout.

  69. John says:

    A large percentage of Americans have no clue as to what they want their government to do for THEM. The left (socialists) and right (fascists) have BOTH so successfully co-opted the “ask not what your country can do for you…” nonsense that people expect nothing FROM their government (other than using its power to punish those they don’t like).

    Americans like being serfs. It takes less time and brains than being citizens.

    Oh, gotta go, American Idle is on…

  70. Winston Munn says:

    American Idol is on for the Idle American

    Wonder how many of these t-shirts have been sold?

    http://t-shirts.cafepress.com/item/eat-the-rich-they-taste-like-chicken/314541431

  71. Winston Munn says:

    “Your opinions about the first paragraph clearly influenced your analysis of the second, a hallmark of poor journalism…”

    Posted by: Alex Sebastian |

    @Alex Sebastian

    I would say nothing further the author writes could be taken seriously after the author states: “In fact, the difference between dogmatists and pragmatists is hard to draw.”

    Ridiculous. It is not at all hard.

    The pragmatists knows that if the customer has a quarter in his pocket he may buy a quarter’s worth of sugar.

    The dogmatist accepts on faith that if he lowers taxes on the rich, everone will have more quarters, and he will surely sell pounds and pounds of sugar at ever higher prices due to increased demand, so then if he sells the sugar on credit, it is better still, and then he can package the sugar loans into bonds, then resell the sugar bonds to investors, which would free his capital to repeat the process over and over and all of us will be rich forever and Amen.

    But then, that’s just the dogmatist in me saying this so take it as an unreliable, unprovable belief.

  72. beth says:

    This is a total straw-man.

    Since when did free-market advocates endorse fiat currency, fractional lending, interest-rate price fixing by the Fed, GSEs, government-granted rating agency monopolies, etc., etc.?

    Since when did free-market defenders *not* support legal recourse for fraud and breach of contract? The current meme seems to be that free-market advocates support anarchy without any legal recourse. You realize that’s totally and completely false, right?

    To lump together the entire population of free-market advocates as “ideologues” is what’s intellectually dishonest. You’re not even engaging in the conversation. Now *that* is dogmatism.

  73. Joe T. says:

    Now we have the Final Verdict on the so-called Reagan Legacy. The Reagan Legacy was a legacy of recklessness and greed, that led us to the present market disaster.

    Let the name of Ronald Reagan be stricken from every building, every school, every airport and edifice in the land. Let all statues of Ronald Reagan tumble and be thrown into he dustbin of history.

    Let Ronald Reagan’s face be removed from every postage stamp, every memorial, and every tribute in the land.

    The Final Verdict on the false god of so-called conservative economics, who has been held up for inane idol worship by the conservative absolutist cabal, has been handed down by the market, and now both Ronald Reagan and his so-called “movement” have been forever discredited.

  74. jdmckay says:

    Where does one begin with a paragraph so overladen with nonsense.

    You seem surprised… I read gibberish at least that whacky every day, throughout the Gigot era, on the WSJ OpED page.

    The author may be right about one thing: Ideas that fail are discarded. That process is going on right now.

    Not on WSJ OpEd.

  75. The Pale Scot says:

    Thanks for the book selection folks, I’ll follow up;

    Perhaps I cast myself as too uninformed. But what I meant really is more of; I’m sure that the GOP SAYS that they tried to pass a bill that they SAY would create more “stability” or “accountability”, that’s how they roll. I was hoping there is a source like this say;

    http://online.barrons.com/article/SB122246742997580395.html

    That is more in depth; like a demarcation between legislation and agency action, a breakdown of the relative CRS numbers etc.

    And what about the bond holders?
    http://www.hussmanfunds.com/wmc/wmc080922.htm

    lotta football today, been writing this since 4pm

  76. chad says:

    I didn’t realize Greenspan headed the bank of england also, or that German banks were governed by the CFTC…..

    welcome to hackery barry.

  77. John says:

    And, how can there be “free markets” if more than 50% of the population are hopeless delusional nearly-psychotic semi-literate dumb-asses who are being continuously ripped off by those who aren’t?

    As some famous celebrity once said: “The dumb-asses will always be with us”. Another famous person said something about “there being a sucker born every minute” and acted upon this wisdom, enriching himself in the process.

    So, what happens when the non-dumb-asses complete their rip-off campaign of the dumb-asses, who (unfortunately) are also Americans? Do the dumb-asses die on the streets (being visible from the restaurant windows), or does somebody press the reset button so everybody gets to start over again; of course with the same results (you can lead a dumb-ass to knowledge, but you can’t make him think).

  78. VennData says:

    … can’t we at least have one ‘Ronald Reagan Savings and Loan of Dixon’ to remind us of Him?

  79. Posted by: Joe T. | Oct 12, 2008 7:44:43 PM

    Joe T.

    You seem to love ‘straw-man’ arguments, why not bale this one(?):
    This is a total straw-man.

    Since when did free-market advocates endorse fiat currency, fractional lending, interest-rate price fixing by the Fed, GSEs, government-granted rating agency monopolies, etc., etc.?

    Since when did free-market defenders *not* support legal recourse for fraud and breach of contract? The current meme seems to be that free-market advocates support anarchy without any legal recourse. You realize that’s totally and completely false, right?

    To lump together the entire population of free-market advocates as “ideologues” is what’s intellectually dishonest. You’re not even engaging in the conversation. Now *that* is dogmatism.

    Posted by: beth | Oct 12, 2008 7:31:38 PM

    I’ll tell you what, you turn her observations into, so much, cattle fodder, and, if BR concurs (w/your ‘findings’), I’ll you the U$D 10 000 I was aching to give away earlier..

    and, so I don’t have to wait for your non-response, methinks, you, just might be, a two-bit windbag..

  80. OhNoNotAgain says:

    I agree with Mike in NOla. You can’t construct an economy based on the consumer being the last firewall in terms of prudent decisions. It just doesn’t work because too much expertise is required. It is the responsibility of the lenders to ensure that they are loaning money to individuals that can repay, and it is the government’s responsibility to ensure that lenders are not lending to those that cannot repay for the purposes of extracting huge amounts of fees and charging punitive interest rates so that the principal could never be feasibly repaid.

    Mark and others,

    You seem very intent on preserving the Libertarian brand. And, while I understand that you may have disagreements with the Republicans today, the problem I have with this is that you’ve had the Republican party claiming to be the torchbearers for the “free market” for over 30 years, and not one peep was heard from anyone that I have read or watched that claimed to be of a like mind as yourselves. Libertarians have been aligning themselves with the Republican party for the entire duration, and now it seems like you want a do-over and want to disown any relationship you may have had with the Republican party because of their failure to govern effectively. This just strikes me as particularly disingenuous, especially in light of the fact that you had a Fed chief that was of a like mind, and that the entire government adopted a completely hands-off approach to the business community. Our corporations got everything they wanted, and then some, and they are still falling apart left and right. The whole thing just reminds me of a Utopian scheme – we tried it, it didn’t work, so we must not have tried in a pure enough form, so we must try it again. Perhaps the issue is that we did try it in a pretty pure form, and it simply doesn’t work.

  81. floating stinging buttefly says:

    The conservative movement has accomplished precisely what they set out to do. They’ve destroyed gov’t. They’ve destroyed faith in gov’t. They’ve destroyed and strangled social equity. They’ve conviced Dems to be bipartisan while knifing them w/ serrated stilletos.

    We need an Investor’s Bill of Rights.

    Here’s a start, from Bill Cara (www.billcara.com)

    PS (matt stoller – speak up more often plz)

    • eradication of self-regulation and all possible conflict of interest dealings;

    • independent and separate financial services and capital markets regulation as a subset of the federal judiciary, with filings managed by Finance ministers;

    • removal of central banks and Government Sponsored Entities (GSE) like Fannie and Freddie as quasi government (public) financial institutions, putting them entirely back in the private sector;

    • independent private sector depositories for securities and precious metals;

    • independent marked-to-market vs cost basis double accounting;

    • transparent and fully-disclosed credit markets and financial services, with the elimination of non-disclosed contingent liabilities and off-balance sheet items;

    • required time-stamped, on-line XBRL filing of all public data, including all parts of financial reports, notes, management discussions, speeches, and news releases, from all parts of the public as well as the private sectors in each country;

    • capital markets that are operated in the best interests of the owners of capital and not for the capital managers or administrators, and

    • the universal (general) agreement on currencies to start as soon as possible, and a system for five-year re-balancing.

  82. Posted by: OhNoNotAgain | Oct 12, 2008 10:55:14 PM

    ONNA,

    for me, personally, it doesn’t have much to do with ‘names’, like: libertarian, as it does with accuracy.

    either, there are commonly agreed to definitions of terms, thereby allowing a reasonable discourse, or there are not.
    http://www.thefreedictionary.com/definition

    also, if you would, throw your, above, observation, out to the field at http://www.mises.org…you‘ll surely find ‘libertarians’ that bear no brief for Republicans.

    past that, where I come from, there is no Qualitative difference between (D) & (R), to believe otherwise is to enter a fool’s parad(-ise)(-igm)..

    see: http://clusty.com/search?input-form=clusty-simple&v%3Asources=webplus&query=orange+line+mafia

    for further insights, simply, though, fonts like TReason and STATO are Pro-State hideouts for those that ‘think’ (R) and ‘Neo-Con’ are ‘uncool’…

  83. Francois says:

    A vapor head who, most likely, learn creative writing at WorldNetDaily blog and Komolskaya Gazeta.

    In my lexicon, such writers are Apostles of the Fuckwadism.

    That the FT opened their columns to such an asshat is a black eye to common sense.

  84. DMR says:

    The saddest part of this “absolutism” is that the entire political spectrum has become so engorged with failed ideas that they spend their time pontificating about whether the drug dealer or the drug addict is at fault. The pragmatic approach calls for saving the neighborhood and ensuring that people can safely buy milk from the corner store again!