Sunday, September 21, 2008

The (misplaced) role of markets

Here is a piece from the NYT about how the head of the Treasury and the chairman of the Fed- both proponents of liberal, free market idea-, fearing further negative repercussion in the economy emanating from the sub-prime mortgage crisis, changed their the administration’s economic ideology!

…Just like that, Mr. Bernanke, the reserved former Ivy League professor, and Mr. Paulson, the hard-charging former Wall Street deal maker, launched what would be the government’s largest economic rescue operation in modern times, one that rivals the Iraq war in cost and at the same time may redefine Washington’s role in the marketplace for years.

The plan to buy $700 billion in troubled assets with taxpayer money was shaped by two men who did not know each other until two years ago and did not travel in the same circles, but now find themselves brought together by history. If Mr. Bernanke is the intellectual force and Mr. Paulson the action man of this unlikely tandem, they have managed to create a nearly seamless partnership as they rush to stop the financial upheaval and keep the economy afloat.

…Along the way, they have cast aside the administration’s long-held views about regulation and government involvement in private business, even reversing decisions over the space of 24 hours and justifying them as practical solutions to dire threats.

…For Mr. Bernanke, the current crisis is the culmination of a lifetime of figuring how the system works from a theoretical viewpoint…Mr. Bernanke’s research into Japan’s financial crisis in the 1990s reinforced his view that the government had to be aggressive in intervening during market crises.

Interesting discussion about the causes of this crisis here. Intellectuals’ discussion about the crisis here.