Wait, Could It Be That Bernanke And Rubin Are Quietly Apologizing?
L. Randall Wray
Alan Greenspan has already apologized for the damage he wrought, admitting the crisis reveals that his approach to economics is fundamentally flawed. Apparently it is now time for mea culpas from the rest of the team most responsible for creating this mess: Rubin, Summers, and Bernanke. Rubin and Bernanke just provided theirs — albeit somewhat half-heartedly, a bit more Tiger Woods than David Letterman. Don’t hold your breath for an apology from Summers, who never owns up to his mistakes, ranging from his proposal to use developing nations as toxic waste dumps to his argument that females suffer from congenital handicaps that render them incapable of doing science. Still, with three out of the four acknowledging errors, this could indicate a New Year’s trend. Next we can hope that the University of Chicago — the institution most responsible for producing the theories that guided our misguided policymakers — will apologize for its indiscretions. That could set an example for all mainstream economists who, as the Queen pointedly put it, failed to foresee the crisis.
The statements by Rubin and Bernanke are quite interesting — both for what they say and for what they leave out. Rubin claims to have learned that we “need to reform the financial system to better protect against systemic risk and devastating crises in the future.” Nice deduction, Sherlock! But he goes further, admitting he has long had misgivings about the shape of the financial system: “About four years ago, a well-known London investor said to me that the only undervalued asset in the world was risk. I had the same view, as did many others, and often said that markets, including credit, had gone to excess and that would probably be followed by a cyclical downturn-perhaps a sharp one-though the timing, as always, was unpredictable.” Really? Four years ago? Did he try to warn the Bush administration’s regulators? Or his protégé, Timmy Geithner at the NYFed who was busy (by his own admission) NOT regulating banks? At that time did he feel any guilt, since he was among the most important deregulators who had created the conditions that would ensure undervaluation of risk? Did he push for re-regulation of the financial institution he was running into the ground? more