Set your Tivos for Frontline tomorrow night:


click for video



“We didn’t truly know the dangers of the market, because it was a dark market,” says Brooksley Born, the head of an obscure federal regulatory agency — the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) — who not only warned of the potential for economic meltdown in the late 1990s, but also tried to convince the country’s key economic powerbrokers to take actions that could have helped avert the crisis. “They were totally opposed to it,” Born says. “That puzzled me. What was it that was in this market that had to be hidden?”

The Warning: On air and online October 20, 2009 at 9:00pm (check local listings)

Category: Bailouts, Regulation, Television

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.

13 Responses to “Frontline: The Warning (Brooksley Born)”

  1. For all of the people you meet who foolishly announce: “No one could have seen this coming . . . “

  2. Transor Z says:

    Frontline is the Last of the Mohicans, the last quality long-form journalistic documentary program going. I’ll be watching!

  3. Charles Maley says:

    We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are – ANAIS NIN

    Action and reaction, ebb and flow, trial and error, change- this is the rhythm of living. Out of our over-confidence, fear; out of our fear, clearer vision, and fresh hope. And out of hope, progress – BRUCE BARTON (AMERICAN CONGRESSMAN 1886-1967)

  4. Onlooker from Troy says:

    Well if you didn’t know EXACTLY when and EXACTLY how it would play out then you didn’t see it coming, and we can discount your gloomy rantings as being just perma-bearism – dontchaknow? /snark/

    And God knows if you were saying it in the ’90s you were really a crackpot that could be marginalized for your loony rantings and pessimism. Hey, just look at what the stock market was doing. How could things be truly bad underneath? /snark, again/

  5. scharfy says:

    Greenspan is probably one of the more compelling characters in this whole debacle. Can someone please tell me how a sound money guy who championed the gold standard, even had Ayn Rand at his side when he was sworn in, went on to create a massive unimaginably destructive asset bubble?

    If Ghandi had started his own holocaust , wouldn’t we find it a bit strange?

    If you read his essays you would find all the remedies, to the crisis which he really played a major role in creating. I guess i’m glas he’s on the board at PIMCO now..

  6. Mannwich says:

    @sharfy: Once a so-called “libertarian” gets a taste of wealth and power, one ceases to become a true “libertarian”. It’s just not possible to be a true “libertarian” once you get that taste. Human nature is such that once you and your friends have wealth and power, you will rig the game so that you and your friends hang onto it for as long as possible.

  7. Andy T says:

    Thanks, but I’ll pass on DVR’ing this one. Love the “trailer” though…..”Brooksley Born was in an EPIC battle with Alan Greenspan.” C’mon. An epic battle? How epic? What happened. How many “testy” memos did they send to each other? How many meetings did they really have?

    An epic battle is when you’re dropping 100′s of thousand of troops at Normandy, or you’re fighting lions in a Coliseum….that’s epic. Bureacrats arguing about OTC derivatives cannot be epic.

    What would have really changed if they had “cleared” all these transactions on an exchange and it was “regulated?” Traders like AIG or GS or whomever would have had to post some collateral? Big deal. Nothing would have prevented the bubble. The losses would have been dispersed more widely, rather than concentrated in larger folks like AIG. It would have made little difference.

    So, the last thing I want to watch is some program talking about how “courageous” this particular woman was in “sounding off” against the potential evils of the shadowy marketplace. There were lots of warnings and lots of smart people sounding off on the housing/credit/derivative bubble. Should we give them all awards. The cold hard reality is that in a mania/bubble, the masses ignore the warning. Almost everyone is oblivious to the risks….That’s just way it is. It will never change.

  8. catman says:

    I never have quite gotten the Ayn Rand thing. I got the Greenspan thing tho – a cudgel to the financial cranium.

  9. I love these post hoc reports that the ‘Barn door is open’..

    AT makes a good point: “”Brooksley Born was in an EPIC battle with Alan Greenspan.” C’mon. An epic battle? How epic? What happened. How many “testy” memos did they send to each other? How many meetings did they really have?”

    and, really, Whare was the MSM when she was making this noise about ” potential for economic meltdown in the late 1990s”?

    she’s being turned into Tool..

  10. Tom K says:

    The rear view mirror driving is getting a little nauseating.

    U.S. public debt is piling up and the role of government is expanding at an alarming rate, and we’re fighting the last war…feeling good by saying ‘told ya so’.

    So we’re headed for a $20 trillion dollar public debt, years of woefully under-funded entitlement programs, a sinking dollar, and the likelihood of much higher taxes. But hey, why worry about little things like that?

  11. farmera1 says:

    It really made me curious as to how a true believer in Ayn Rand (he spent a great deal of time with Ayn Rand in his early years) could become the leader of the largest economic planning organization (the FED) this side of the Kremlin. I bought his book just because of this question.

    Greenspan explains all in his 2007 book AGE OF TURBULENCE.

    “By the time I joined Richard Nixon’s campaign for the presidency in 1968, I had long since decided to engage in efforts to advance free-market capitalism as an insider, rather than as a critical pamphleteer. When I agreed to accept the nomination as chairman of the president’s Council of Economic Advisors, I knew I would have to pledge to uphold not only the Constitution but also the laws of the land, many of which I thought were wrong. It did not go without notice that Ayn Rand stood beside me as I took the oath of office. I’m greatful for the influence she had on my life. I was intellectually limited until I met her.”

    So Greenspan headed an organization that had responsibilities he thought were best handled by the market (whatever that means when comes to taking huge risks with other peoples money to earn a cool $600 million in 6 years as was the case with Lehman’s CEO). The result were inevitable. Greenspan has since admitted he was wrong and that people really do things that can endanger the companies they are responsible for.

    Now how surprising is that….. and on top of that whocouldaknowed….

  12. Moss says:

    ‘engage in efforts to advance free-market capitalism as an insider’

    Ha. That is the biggest friggin lie I have ever heard.

    Should be more like ‘as an insider I decided to engage in crony capitalism under the guise of a free market capitalist’.

    Any free market is based on competition. The Fed is not interested in competition nor is any insider.

  13. Human nature is such that once you and your friends have wealth and power, you will rig the game so that you and your friends hang onto it for as long as possible.

    Cincinnatus. George Washington.

    Or are they so rare that I’m making your point for you?

    We need more Cincinnati.