By James Kwak
The Straddler, an online interdisciplinary publication, has an extended interview with me, of all people, so you can see what I talk like.
This is one section I’m proud of:
“Middle class wages have been declining for ten years and stagnant for thirty years, and if you have a financial system that allows people making $15,000 a year to take out $400,000 mortgages, I don’t think that’s the fault of the guy making $15,000. I think it’s the fault of the financial system.
“But, let’s say I’m a guy who makes $15,000 a year. I realize, wow, I can get a $400,000 mortgage and I can live in this house for a few years, and if housing prices go up, I can flip it and I can actually make a couple hundred thousand dollars. And let’s say I’m really clever, and I say, if housing prices go down, I’ll just walk away and I will have gotten to live in a really nice house for three years at no cost to myself. I mean, that’s the worst, most cynical spin you can put on it, right? But this is exactly what people on Wall Street do. The person who is criticizing the janitor for doing this is the same person who thinks that businesses should exploit every legal opportunity to make profits. So even if you attribute the worst possible state of mind to the guy making $15,000, he’s still just doing what any businessman should do under the circumstances. But our national ideology somehow doesn’t allow us to think about it in those terms.”
Simon and I are both on Bill Moyers (first half) tonight. Then Simon is on Real Time with Bill Maher. Enjoy.
Tomorrow evening I’m on Bill Maher’s HBO show, as part of a three person panel with Muhammad Yunus and Jon Meacham. Bill runs a wide-ranging discussion covering pretty much anything that’s been in the news over the past week or so. With Muhammad and Jon there, I’m sure we’ll get into issues of ethics and values – including whether we have let “the profit motive” become too central in our society.
In terms of other topics related to economics, my guess is we’ll talk about: Continue reading
I know Simon very well, so I’m not particularly impressed very often, but I think his interview with Andrew Leonard of Salon is a fun read, even if you’re already familiar with his positions.
My favorite line?
What do we get out of the meta-financial crap? It’s not so clear that we got useful things. Did our ATM fees come down? No.
By James Kwak
Move over, Bill Moyers.* Simon is going to be on Stephen Colbert tonight.
If you have predictions about what Colbert is going to want to talk about, or ideas for witty comebacks, please post them. I believe Simon is traveling but will check in around 6 pm Eastern.
* Just kidding. Bill Moyers is one of our finest public servants.
I talked yesterday with Steve Weisman, my colleague at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, about where the global economy is likely heading. Steve asked very good questions about U.S. monetary policy and what effects it will have. You can listen to our conversation here.