The gods of greed

Written By: - Date published: 11:33 am, June 13th, 2008 - 19 comments
Categories: articles, International - Tags: , , , ,

The Guardian has extracts from a new book by Larry Elliott and Dan Atkinson, The Gods That Failed: How Blind Faith in Markets Has Cost Us Our Future, in which they explain “how the reckless speculation of a super-rich elite has left us all the poorer”.

They promised economic stability, order and prosperity. But instead the world’s bankers have delivered chaos, debt and uncertainty – and then blamed the feeble governments that surrendered control of the global economy to them…

Definitely worth a read: part one, part two, part three, audio of interview with Larry Elliott.

(Hat-tip: SH)

19 comments on “The gods of greed”

  1. Phil 1

    “how the reckless speculation of a super-rich elite has left us all the poorer’.

    Ah, yes. I’m sure it would be lovely to go back to the good old days, when reckless speculation from fiscally irresponsible governments had no effect whatsoever on you, I, or the health of society in general.

    Oh, wait, that’s not right. Anyone old enough will remember that the oil crisis of the 70’s literally crippled the global economy. The price rises we’ve seen in the past few months are of remarkably similar % increase, and yet life has not ended. Not even close.

    Sure, it hurts when you fill the tank, but our ability to cope with price shocks is vastly improved as a result of international market deregulation, not in spite of it.

  2. Phil. As you know, our real incomes are much larger than they were in the 1970s and petrol prices are only just getting higher in real terms now than they were in the 1970s. So, the increase in petrol prices (and I would be wary of calling it a shock, which implies it will end) is (so far) a smaller relative impact on our wallets.

    Moreover our economies are much less oil intense than they were in the 1970s – per dolalr of GDP we use less oil, so an increase in the price of oil has less impact than it did in the 1970s.

    Nothing to do with market deregulation, just growth and energy efficency.

    Of course, the price is still rising and even though we are in a better position to deal with high oil prices than we were, we can’t handle any price.

  3. all_your_base 3

    Phil, have you even read the articles or is your “analysis” just a stab in the dark based on the quote I pulled?

  4. And Phil – ‘reckless private speculators or reckless govts’ – false dichotomy

  5. andy 5

    We are all subprime now!

  6. higherstandard 6

    Although taking a wider view and including many of the largest companies in the world isn’t is fascinating that some of these ‘Gods of Greed” are also the worlds largest philanthropists, employers, wealth creators and contibutors to governments incomes ?

  7. andy 7

    wealth creators

    maybe last year, 2008 is all about wealth destruction 🙂

    look at Babcock Brown today, down 28%, ‘bugger’! the maquarie millionaires factory has gone quiet, Bear Sterns need I say more..

  8. “worlds largest philanthropists, employers, wealth creators and contibutors to governments incomes”

    well, they’re only the largest tax payers and donors because they hold most of the world’s wealth (incidentally, people on lower incomes give more to charity as a % of income)

    and they’re the ones employing people (I won’t call them ‘weath creators’ until you explain what that means) because they control the capital.

  9. ropata 9

    In other news,
    The Bank of England today announced a $100 billion plan to allow banks to swap mortgage-backed securities for Treasury bills. The government said it was prepared to accept bad debt on behalf of the people and said the people were prepared to accept more taxes on behalf of the people.

  10. The “prosperity” of recent years has been a series of speculative bubbles that have now all burst.

    The housing bubble of the past 7 years was sparked by the US Fed lowering interest rates to prevent inflation after the tech bubble imploded.

    The inflation is caused by huge US deficits year on year (thanks to Bush tax cuts and then doubled by invading Iraq) and the impact of political instability in the Middle east, Venezuela and elsewhere on the price of oil…and the hand of the US has been active in all those places, resulting in higher oil prices. Now they are threatening Iran yet again – putting oil up $11 in one day last week.

    It’s hard to imagine this isn’t all deliberate. If not, it is incompetence on a historic scale.

    Now for us, here in NZ, it’s back to the real world. We grow food and the world is going to be needing that. But it won’t be much use to us if Americans or Europeans or anyone else can afford to pay more for our food than we can.

    Imagine: a country that grows food that one day may be full of people who can’t afford to eat any of it because someone somewhere else can pay more.

    Markets. Very stupid things. Good when there is a lot of competition and no limit on resources. Bad when cartels or monopolies end up deciding who eats and who doesn’t.

  11. ropata 11

    Markets are very useful tools enabling communities to efficiently and fairly exchange goods and services to the mutual beneficial of all parties. However they require regulation because of the inevitable tendency of a few opportunists to try and cheat. When markets become too abstracted from fundamentals and begin exchanging esoteric financial instruments, investors should be highly suspicious. For the last 20 odd years the NZ regulatory environment has rewarded rent seeking behaviour and speculation, and the govt has lacked the guts to restrain the impact of global capital.

  12. erikter 12

    “..and the govt has lacked the guts to restrain the impact of global capital.”

    What are you suggesting: more protectionism? tariffs? barriers on foreign investment?

    The world has changed and globalisation is here to stay. Get used to it.

  13. Why is the man in the suit white for??

    That is a bigoted cartoon.

  14. 2_dead_dogs 14

    The title is ‘The Gods of Greed’ and the guy in the cartoon is wearing a red tie.

    how apt.

  15. randal 15

    no point being a WINNER unless there are losers!

  16. expat 16

    Steve Withers.

    The first part of your post is post on.

    The second half…well.

    But what about the latest NZ Herald bombshell re: House Prices in Mt Roskill (and by extrapolation Mt Albert).

    That’d rip an incumbent MP’s undies.

  17. expat 17

    that should of course read slightly less dyslexic:

    Steve Withers.

    The first part of your post is spot on.

    The second half well.

    But what about the latest NZ Herald bombshell re: House Prices in Mt Roskill (and by extrapolation Mt Albert).

    That’d rip an incumbent MP’s undies.

  18. roger 18

    Elliott and Atkinson identify the problem with overreliance on market ideology. Ultimately the government as purchaser of services has to demand good outomes – whether they are buying from a government run department or from a private contractor. The assumption that private provision is always more efficient or more effective in delivering public policy goals has been shown to be a myth.

  19. expat 19

    And it does not follow that public provision of public policy goals is efficient or effective at all.

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