Monday, February 9, 2009

Masters of the Universe

image Today’s AFR has a nicely worded piece by American academic Harold James entitled “Superbanks are not economic visionaries”.  Following a bit of a history lesson James concludes as follows:

…even for the US, the notion of a world held together by Citigroup’s business plan is simply too costly.  There is a danger that in the push to nationalise banks as a consequence of the financial crisis, governments will see it as their duty to implement strategies .

The strategic vision of a bank shaping the economic fortunes of a country, or the whole world, is as flawed as was the idea of central economic planning.  In this sense, 2007-09 is the capitalist equivalent of the communist demise of 1989-91.

James’ article reminded me of Tom Wolfe’s classic The Bonfire of the Vanities, and the “masters of the universe” who were in fact anything but.

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