Tag Archives: wall street

Washington and Wall Street: Best Kept Separate

Russ Roberts’ testimony in front of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is superb. Read it (it’s short). Wall Street deserves plenty of blame for the financial crisis. But Washington deserves more:

When your teenager drives drunk and wrecks the car, and you keep giving him a do-over—
repairing the car and handing him back the keys—he’s going to keep driving
drunk. Washington keeps giving the bad banks and Wall Street firms a do-over. Here are
the keys. Keep driving. The story always ends with a crash.

I’m mad at Wall Street. But I’m a lot madder at the people who gave them the keys to
drive our economy off the cliff.

Goldman Sachs and Crony Capitalism

Over at NPR, George Mason professor Russ Roberts looks at why Goldman Sachs prospers as Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers die, despite following more or less similar business practices. Key point:

[C]apitalism is a profit and loss system. The profits encourage risk-taking. The losses encourage prudence. If the taxpayer almost always eats the losses for the losers, you don’t have capitalism. You have crony capitalism.

The content deserves close study. So does the delivery; Russ is one of the clearest economics writers there is.

Markets and Special Interests

ludwig-von-mises
Detractors of capitalism decry that it caters to special interests. The opposite is actually true. Just look at what’s happened in the last year.

Most of Wall Street came to government asking for a bailout when the government-created housing bubble popped.

The Big Three automakers also went to Washington for largesse when their customers came to prefer Toyotas and Hondas.

Health insurance companies stand to make a killing if Obamacare passes.

T. Boone Pickens and Al Gore would make millions from environmental legislation.

Ludwig von Mises explained the reason for all of this corrupt behavior with a single sentence back in 1949: “It is precisely the fact that the market does not respect vested interests that makes the people concerned ask for government interference.”
Human Action, 4th Edition, p. 337.