Missing commitment to future

During the decade leading up to the crisis, current account deficits increased steadily and became unsustainable. Strong domestic investment (much of it in unproductive residential construction) outstripped domestic saving. Government budget discipline dissipated; fiscal policy became pro-cyclical [ie, not counter-cyclical]. Financial regulation and supervision was weak to non-existent, encouraging credit and asset price booms and bubbles. Corporate governance, especially but not only in the banking sector, became increasingly subservient to the interests of the CEOs and the other top managers. There was a steady erosion in business ethics and moral standards in commerce and trade. Regulatory capture and corruption, from petty corruption to grand corruption to state capture, became common place. Truth-telling and trust became increasingly scarce commodities in politics and in business life. The choice between telling the truth (the whole truth and nothing but the truth) and telling a deliberate lie or half-truth became a tactical option. Combined with increasing myopia, this meant that even reputational considerations no longer acted as a constraint on deliberate deception and the use of lies as a policy instrument. As part of this widespread erosion of social capital, both citizens and markets lost faith in the ability of governments to commit themselves to any future course of action that was not validated, at each future point in time, as the most opportunistic course of action at that future point in time…

Willem Buiter Fiscal expansions in submerging markets; the case of the USA and the UK

See also Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Naked Capitalism, Jesse‚??s Caf√© Am√©ricain and Karl Denniger at Market Ticker.

Purging or detoxing debt from an economy is a strained, long-winded and ugly process. Private creditors exacerbate the crisis by imposing a tough diet on the heavily borrowed: they restrict credit; compound interest on defaulted debt; and impose higher real market interest rates. Yet regulators and politicians turn a blind eye to this financial sector quackery, cause of high mortality and unemployment rates amongst otherwise healthy companies – preferring instead to bail out the quacks. So the US faces a larger challenge. How will it cleanse itself of the money-changers that since the 1970s have acted as parasites on the healthy US economy? Those that burdened thriving companies with debt, and then siphoned off a large share of the profits in the form of interest payments? Or used direct debits to drain excessive interest payments from the bank accounts of hard-working Americans? Will they be purged from the system? Or will American politicians and regulators continue to treat them as delicate ‚??intestinal flora‚?? – vital to the health of the economy?

Ann Pettifor (the force behind Jubilee 2000)