Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Oh Joy

Paul Krugman blogs:
I’ve just finished a review of Tim Geithner’s Stress Test; I’ll let you know when it’s available.

Yes Paul, please do. I can't wait to see the take of an academic Keynesian apologist on a crony Keynesian.


  1. The only reason he hasn't posted it yet is because he has to run it by the Fed Board first.


  2. The Con-Artist Wing of the Democratic Party

    The most consequential event of this young century has been the financial crisis. This is a catchall term that means three different things: an economic housing boom and bust, a financial meltdown, and a political response in which bailouts were showered upon the very institutions that were responsible for the chaos. We will be seeing the fallout for decades. Today, in Europe, far-right fascist parties are on the rise, climbing the unhappiness that the crisis-induced austerity has unleashed. China is looking away from the West as a model of development. In the US, Congress is more popular than certain sexually transmitted infections* but little else, and all institutions of national power are losing their legitimacy. At the same time, the financial system did not, in the end, collapse, and there was no repeat of the Great Depression.

    More than anyone else, it was then US Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner who shaped this response, and who bears praise, blame, and responsibility for the outcome. And finally, with the release of his book, Stress Test: Reflections on Financial Crises, Geithner is getting to tell his side of the bailout story.

    Stress Test is an important book, because Tim Geithner is an important man. Economist Thomas Piketty may be explaining essential social dynamics of inequality, and Elizabeth Warren may be describing the need for Americans to get a break from the banks, but it is Tim Geithner who, for better or worse, actually shaped our institutional, legal, political, and economic dynamics at the moment when the system was most malleable.
    That said, Geithner is not a popular man, and he knows it. “I never found an effective way to explain to the public what we were doing and why,” he writes. “We did save the economy, but we lost the country doing it.”

    . The book is full of narratives, facts, and statements that are, well, untrue, or at the very least, highly misleading. Despite its length, there are also serious omissions that suggest an intention to mislead, as well as misrepresentations of his critics’ arguments. As I went further into Geithner’s narrative, even back into his college days, I got the sense that I was seeing only a brilliantly scrubbed surface, that there were nooks and crannies hidden away. It struck me that I was reading the memoirs of an incredibly savvy and well-bred grifter, the kind that the American WASP establishment of financiers, foundation officials, and spies produces in such rich abundance. I realize this is a bold claim, because it’s an indictment not just of Geithner but also of those who worked for him at Treasury and at the Federal Reserve, as well as indictment of the Clinton-era finance team of Robert Rubin, Larry Summers, Alan Greenspan, Michael Barr, Jason Furman, and other accomplices. That’s why this review is somewhat long, as it’s an attempt to back up such a broad and sweeping claim. I will also connect it to what Geithner is doing now: working in the same kind of financial business that made Mitt Romney a near billionaire.

    Geithner also addresses his critics, motivated by what he derisively calls “Old Testament justice.” It may be morally righteous to hang the bankers, he argues, but it’s irresponsible to do this at the cost of allowing a crisis to destroy the lives of millions.

    In 2009, Johnson published his essential argument about the US bailouts in an article titled “The Quiet Coup.” Johnson’s argument was political—he portrayed Geithner’s strategy as fundamentally entrenching a political oligarchy.