Regulation, Transparency, Wall Street Collapse and Katrina; Responses to Financial Collapses and National Disasters

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Portfolio.com: The End, by Michael Lewis

Required reading for anyone wondering about our current economic mess. Here’s where regulation is needed and free markets don’t just work: you can get a ton of really smart people together controlling major sections of the world financial system, who are only out for short-term profits (i.e. tomorrow, next quarter maybe), and many of whom don’t know what they’re selling, just that if they keep hyping it and selling it they can charge a lot of money for it. And not just ignorance, but other times outright fraud, knowingly giving things good ratings and telling people they are secure financial instruments when they know they are not.

The emperor really has no clothes. Things got so complicated, non-transparent, and under-regulated, even within individual firms…

Another thing that worries me in terms of regulation and transparency, is the whole Katrina fiasco. I mean, I can’t believe that Bush didn’t immediately send in the National Guard with tons of water, food, supplies, etc. I mean, if Katrina didn’t count as a huge national disaster, what would? And does that mean that the US doesn’t have an adequate stash of food and water and an adequate national disaster response communications network and strategy plan set up? What if there was a disaster on the scale of Katrina but man-made–would the federal government have stepped in to help US citizens any sooner? Or would people still be going without adequate supplies and assistance for days, weeks, etc? QUITE WORRISOME, no? I really hope our disaster response plans nationally have been beefed up–Obama, this should be a top priority when you take office.

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