Wanted: Finance Industry A Team

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis and more, subscribe to Mother Jones' newsletters.


WANTED: FINANCE INDUSTRY A TEAM….One of the things that makes our current financial crisis even scarier than it might otherwise be (at least to me) is that no one really, truly, seems to be entirely sure of what’s going on. Even genuine experts appear to be sort of baffled by the whole thing — though that hasn’t stopped them from producing hundreds of different theories. Ezra Klein points out one of the causes of this problem, which has been at the back of my mind as well:

One sidenote of the past few months is that folks turned to economists when what they needed were finance experts. But there are relatively few finance experts who aren’t affiliated with financial institutions, and so much of their commentary is tainted.

….Asking folks who have a general education in matters of macroeconomy to evince a complete knowledge of opaque financial instruments developed in the past few years is a bit odd. But asking the folks who developed and traded those instruments to give unbiased commentary on them is little better. It’s a weird situation, and it’s why, I’d argue, you’ve had a lot more commentary on things like the bailout bill, which are fairly general in nature and can be understood using tools from traditional economics, than the specifics of the financial crisis.

I second that motion. More finance experts, please. And mortgage and securitization experts. And ratings agency experts. And central banking experts. All stirred together with a bunch of top notch macroeconomists. Unfortunately, I suppose we’d probably all have to chip in and guarantee these guys $10 million bonuses to do real analysis for us, wouldn’t we? Maybe George Soros could bankroll them.

UPDATE: Speaking of finance analysis, I wrote yesterday about a Fed paper suggesting that there was, in reality, no credit crisis at all. In fact, banks are lending like crazy! I was skeptical, but said, “Even if it turns out to be wrong, reading the explanation of why it’s wrong should be instructive.”

Mark Thoma and friends oblige with an explanation here. It’s not conclusive, I think, but it certainly suggests that the original paper I linked to was woefully simplistic.

THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.