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Posts Tagged ‘Financial crash

“A turning point at which modern history failed to turn”*…

 

William Powhida: Griftopia, 2011; a ten-foot-wide ‘visual translation’ of the 2008 financial crisis based on Matt Taibbi’s 2010 book of the same title

William Powhida: Griftopia, 2011; a ten-foot-wide ‘visual translation’ of the 2008 financial crisis based on Matt Taibbi’s 2010 book of the same title

 

The historian G.M. Trevelyan said that the democratic revolutions of 1848, all of which were quickly crushed, represented “a turning point at which modern history failed to turn.” The same can be said of the financial collapse of 2008. The crash demonstrated the emptiness of the claim that markets could regulate themselves. It should have led to the disgrace of neoliberalism—the belief that unregulated markets produce and distribute goods and services more efficiently than regulated ones. Instead, the old order reasserted itself, and with calamitous consequences. Gross economic imbalances of power and wealth persisted. We are still experiencing the reverberations…

Read Robert Kuttner‘s review of Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World by Adam Tooze: “The Crash That Failed.”

* G.M. Trevelyan

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As we struggle to avoid repeating past mistakes, we might recall that it was on this date in 1933 that President Franklin D. Roosevelt announced the Civil Works Administration.  Intended as a short-term agency charged quickly to create jobs for millions of unemployed Americans through the hard winter of 1933–34, it was closed in March of 1934– having provided work for 4 million workers who laid 12 million feet of sewer pipe and built or improved 255,000 miles of roads, 40,000 schools, 3,700 playgrounds, and nearly 1,000 airports.

CWA was effectively replaced by the Works Progress Administration (WPA), which operated on a much larger scale.  Almost every community in the United States had a new park, bridge or school constructed by the agency.

220px-Civil_Works_Administration_(CWA)_workmen_cleaning_and_painting_the_gold_dome_of_the_Denver_Capitol,_1934_-_NARA_-_541904

Civil Works Administration workers cleaning and painting the gold dome of the Colorado State Capitol (1934)

source

 

All the news that’s fit to spit…

Your correspondent is an admirer of the stylings of Matt Taibbi; consider, e.g., “The Great Bubble Machine,” wherein Taibbi compares Goldman Sachs to “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.”

So one can imagine the delight of discovering that, thanks to New York Magazine, one can play along with the Master:

Rolling Stone‘s Matt Taibbi… is perhaps best known for is his willingness to say Bad Things about Important People in a Colorful Way. This talent is on copious display in his new book, Griftopia: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con That Is Breaking America, which is ostensibly about how America is becoming “a vast ghetto in which all of us … are being bled dry by a relatively tiny oligarchy of extremely clever financial criminals and their castrato henchmen in government” but mostly serves as a 252-page delivery mechanism for ad hominem insults*… we’ve put together a quiz using some of his most vivid descriptions of public figures. See how many you can figure out!

It’s a particularly-challenging game in that so many of the questions have several answers that could easily be correct.  An example:

Try to “Match the Matt Taibbi Insult to the Public Figure.”

* New York’s opinion, not your correspondent’s (though the insults are in fact epic)…

As we Question Authority, we might recall that it was on this date in 2005 that Kenny G, Don Henley, Stevie Nicks, and Tom Petty performed at the Rainbow Room on a bill topped by Aerosmith and 50 Cent for a private bat mitzvah.  The doting dad who sprang for the lavish coming-of-age-fest (at which, in addition to the entertainment, guests were treated to gift bags containing over $1,000 of personal electronics) was defense contractor David H. Brooks, CEO of DHB Industries, a Long Island company that manufactured body armor for the United States military.

Two years after the lavish event, Brooks was served with a 71-page federal indictment featuring charges of insider trading, tax evasion and raiding his company’s coffers for personal gain– including for the $10 million he used to pay for his daughter’s soiree.  Other questionable items charged to the company (thus, via cost-plus contracts, to the Government): pornographic videos for his son, plastic surgery for his wife, a burial plot for his mother, prostitutes for his employees– and, for himself, a $100,000 American-flag belt buckle encrusted with rubies, sapphires and diamonds.

Steven Tyler singing to Our Miss Brooks at her Bat Mitzvah (source)

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