“THE MOST SERIOUS FINANCIAL CRISIS SINCE THE GREAT DEPRESSION”

24 01 2008

Amy Goodman interviews Robert Kutner and Robert Weisman:

AMY GOODMAN:  The solutions now—the Fed interest-rate cut, the stimulus package—is this enough, Robert Kuttner?

ROBERT KUTTNER: No, it’s not the beginning of enough. And I think the place to start is to recognize why this recession is different from all other recessions. This began and is continuing with a collapse in credit markets, and the collapse in credit markets is, in turn, the result of deregulation gone nuts. And it’s a repeat of a lot of things that happened in the 1920s, where there was too much speculation with too much borrowed money and a complete lack of transparency. The regulators, the public had no idea of what these bonds that had been created out of subprime mortgages really contained, what they were worth. The people who packaged them were not subject to any kind of regulatory scrutiny.

And when it turned out that a lot of these loans were never going to be paid back, the layer upon layer upon layer of bonds and then securities based on the bonds—you know, if you can picture the World Trade Center collapsing floor by floor or you can picture the collapse of the Ponzi schemes of the 1920s, that’s a good—or horrible—analogy. And when you have a credit contraction, it means that banks have less capital against which to make loans, and lowering interest rates doesn’t fix that.

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