The murmur of the snarkmatrix…

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We Need An Investigator

Some goodies from the latest Frank Rich column:

As the economics commentator Jeff Madrick points out in The New York Review of Books, the American public is still owed “a clear account of the financial events of the last two years and of who, if anyone, is seriously to blame.” Without that, there will be neither the comprehensive policy framework nor the political will to change anything.

The only investigation in town is a bipartisan Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission created by Congress in May. It is still hiring staff. Its 10 members are dispersed throughout the country, and, according to a spokeswoman, have contemplated only a half-dozen public sessions over the next year. Such a panel, led by the former California state treasurer Phil Angelides, seems highly unlikely to match Congress’s Depression-era Pecora commission. That investigation was driven by a prosecutor whose relentless fact-finding riveted the country and gave birth to the Securities and Exchange Commission, among other New Deal reforms. Last week, we learned that the current S.E.C. has hired a former Goldman hand as the chief operating officer of its enforcement unit.

I’m a little put off by Rich’s overall anti-Goldman, anti-Ivy, bordering-on-a-conspiracy-theory not-quite-populism in this column, but this idea is just right on. I mean, gawd — can you imagine an independent, prosecutor-led investigation into the financial crisis that was as dogged and intense and public as Ken Starr’s investigations of Bill Clinton? Complete with a book like the 9/11 Commission’s? We’ve got Patrick Fitzgerald investigating Blagojevich and… which B-team, exactly, on the global financial crisis?

Come on. Let’s get to the bottom of something. Preferably something real.


Assaf says…

Don’t forget about Taibbi’s crusade against Goldman and the likes, which is much more fun to read that some committee report, I’m sure. His latest Rolling Stone article was epic.

Hey before they do that can they try finding out which bird is in control of where the flock goes or where the memory of my old room is in my brain?

People keep trying to find a villain, but failing. You have to look big. There’s no great conspiracy among these guys. (Often there are tiny conspiracies – insider trading and such)

This american life’s “The Giant Pool of Money” was a good look at it all. There are no specific villains, the whole set of incentives pushed everyone to do this.

The Great Failure was an emergent phenomenon.

There, that’s shorter.

Tim Carmody says…

I’m not talking about a witchhunt. In fact, the investigation is actually MORE useful if it’s a systemic failure, especially a policy failure – a misalignment of incentives. Or that the failsafes we thought would work didn’t. Noting that there weren’t clear villains doesn’t mean that it was all just a random accident, a blip in the business cycle. There is something that we can learn from this.

The snarkmatrix awaits you

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