Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Quick; To Ze Lumberyards! (Bring On The Pitchforks)

The Mythical Monkey's favourite judge*, Richard Posner of the Seventh Circuit, is a frequent writer and -- dare I say it -- pundit. Here's an excerpt from a recent post he made to the Atlantic:

Congress, and much of the public and media, can understand the financial crisis only in populist terms, as the product of the machinations of greedy, reckless, overpaid, perhaps criminal denizens of "Wall Street." Systemic causes of the financial crisis, such as unsound monetary policy, deregulation, lax regulation, regulators asleep at the switch, unsound economic theories, complacency, quirks of the tax code, deficits, Chinese trade policy, mindless governmental promotion of home ownership, and so forth, are beyond them. The government is willing to play to the ignorant partly because in a democracy popular views must always be treated deferentially; partly because (in all likelihood) it doesn't think that the people, the Congress, and the media (except for the most sophisticated financial journalists) can understand a serious economic analysis; and partly because the populist account conveniently deflects attention from the failures in which the current economic leaders of the nation were complicit in the run up to the crisis--unsound trade policy, excessive financial deregulation, lax regulation, complacency, lack of foresight, lack of contingency planning.

Of course if the officials who screwed up said they'd screwed up, the people and the Congress would be reluctant to entrust them with responsibility for redesigning the regulatory system. So they must find scapegoats, and where better than on "Wall Street"?

The thrust of the article is that the commission appointed to figure out what caused the financial crisis of 2008-2009 has all of the respect of a state-fair cow judging commission [okay, probably not that much respect . . . .], and that the administration and the regulators and Congress are all getting busy "reforming" the laws without looking at what really caused the problem. I have a hard time believing that the administration, the regulators, or Congress could possibly be so wrongheaded and craven.

*I lied; I suspect that the Mythical Monkey has some pointed criticism of "Chicago School" Posner . . . .

1 comment:

Who Am Us Anyway? said...

I don’t remember the case or the issue – I’m 134 years old -- but it was a drug case from the mid-90s & involved the search of a car’s trunk, & the govt. was taking the position that an officer did not notice something – I think maybe something suspicious about the screws to the side panels or something like that. So Posner said he supposed that was possible but surprising “given our circuit’s officers’ well-documented ability to see tiny objects at great distances in the dark.” [citing cases].

Jeebus. Looking back at what I just wrote, it's kind of pathetic that I think that’s so great. But … let’s just say you had to be there: late at night, in the midst of muddling through a dense muddle, a human voice pops out of the opinion to deliver a deadpan observation with perfect timing & no pause for applause.

But Posner does that kind of thing a lot, and I think more deftly than Scalia, who can go over the top at the drop of a hat.