Tag Archives: Andrew Jackson

Move Your Politician’s Money

I talked Sunday about Move Your Money with Guy Raz of NPR’s Weekend All Things Considered (summary; audio from about 3:45).  We covered a lot of ground, from what’s in it for individuals to shift towards community banks and credit unions (better service and lower costs, in many cases) to how this could begin to reign in Too Big To Fail financial institutions (slowly, but surely).

Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough time to discuss what comes next – i.e., what happens when the location of political candidates’ own money starts to matter.  As early as this fall’s primaries, expect to hear people ask politicians in debates and through various kinds of interactions: (1) where do you, personally, keep and borrow money, and (2), in all relevant cases, where did you put public money when it was up to you?

These questions strike to the heart of democratic responses against overly concentrated financial power throughout US history – a topic we take up in Chapter 1 of 13 Bankers. Continue reading

Global Crisis And Reform: Starting A Long Journey

I spoke Friday afternoon to MIT Sloan graduates (Reunion Weekend; slides attached), arguing that while we are likely done with a panic or “free fall” phase, we have only just begun to deal with the deeper problems revealed by the global financial crisis.

Think of it this way.  The United States has done well over the past 200 years or so because it was founded with strong institutions – rules and laws that mean we’re protected against government or powerful elites becoming too powerful – and over time these have generally improved, or at least not collapsed under pressure.  Yes, you can complain about (and aim to improve) many aspects of our society, but where would you prefer to set up a technology-based business or make any kind of productive investment or build your own human capital? 

Call this the rule of law, or protection against being expropriated, or sufficient constraints on executive power, but it adds up to roughly the same thing.  We strongly limited the power of the most powerful in our society – and this is in striking contrast to what happens in much of the rest of the world.

But over the past 20-30 years, we took our eye off this ball.  Continue reading