Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Old Solutions to a new crisis

Sorry for the lack of updates recently. Been busy with the whole fall of global capitalism thingy. For some glimpses at what we've been up to check here and here.

Recent developments are almost too overwhelming to even comment about. A couple of scattered thoughts:

1) The IMF needs to go. A new loan to Pakistan was approved today, and loans to Hungary and Ukraine have already gone through. The IMF is using this crisis to salvage its reputation and its balance sheet, when it is the institution that created the preconditions for the crisis in the first place. Here's a more detailed article that Sameer wrote on this subject.

2) Let's hope Obama's policies are more visionary than his choices for important economic advisors. Democracy Now had a good panel on this this morning. Basically, almost all of Obama's economic team are former Clinton-era officials who are as responsible for the current situation as anyone. Well anyone except Alan Greenspan, who's in a category of his own. The New York Times, which is normally pretty bad on all this, has a great editorial explaining the culpability of Geithner, Summers, Rubin and all the rest. Nate Silver, who proved himself to be a brilliant pollster this election cycle, has an article arguing that we shouldn't be too quick to judge Obama by his cabinet, as most of the decisions will be coming from the top down. Somehow I don't find that thought comforting, though the chart of policies Nate prepared for that article is helpful.

In general we need to push Obama and his team towards a new kind of economic policy, one that will set up institutions that are more transparent, more accountable and more democratic than what we have now. Ultimately the system should be one that prioritizes human need and basic human rights over the "right" to unlimited profit. This crisis presents all of us who would work for change the opportunity to make those changes real. The opportunity won't come again in most of our lifetimes (the last time was in the 1930s and 40s), so we'd better make the most of it for ourselves and for the next generation.

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