Tag Archives: Oligarchs

What the IMF Would Tell the United States, If It Could

From 1945 until around 1980, the financial sector was one industry among many in the United States. Then something happened.

compensation4

People in finance started making more money,* jobs in finance became more desirable, financial institutions became more influential, and the linkages between the financial sector and the political establishment became stronger. At the same time that our financial sector became more leveraged and more risky, it also became more powerful. The result was a confluence of interests between Wall Street and Washington – one more normally found behind the scenes of emerging market crises, the kind the IMF is called on to resolve.

Simon and I tell this story – and the story of what happened next – in “The Quiet Coup,” an article in the May issue of The Atlantic. (Many thanks to The Atlantic for putting the online copy up as early as they did.) The working title of the article was, “What the IMF Would Tell the United States, If It Could.” Enjoy.

* The data in that chart are from Table 6.6 of the National Income and Product Accounts tables available from the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Update: Henry Seggerman recently sent us an article he wrote in 2007, comparing the Korean crisis of 2007 to the then-current situation in the United States. He discusses not only the economic similarities, but also some of the political ones.

Update 2: A reader sent us an article about Mark Patterson, formerly Goldman’s chief lobbyist and now Tim Geithner’s chief of staff. Unfortunately, the article was published too late for us to use any of it in our Atlantic article.

By James Kwak

Bill Moyers Journal Tonight: American Banking Oligarchs

A lot of people seem to be worrying about American bank oligarchs and how to break their political power.  Bill Moyers has obviously been thinking about these issues for a long time, and he invited me to come by yesterday to talk more about how we got into this situation and how we might – if we are very lucky – get out with our economy more or less intact.   Continue reading