Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Rocard Décomplexé

I generally like franc-parler in politicians, usually a mealy-mouthed class, but Michel Rocard is so unbuttoned these days that one worries about his equilibrium since his cerebral incident last year. In an interview he muses on the causes of the current economic crisis, leaping from collateralized debt obligations--sound enough--to the US departure from the gold standard in 1971! Then he says that he wishes Milton Friedman were alive today to witness the devastation he wrought. If he were, then he could be haled before the International Court of Justice and tried for crimes against humanity!!

One can wish that Friedman hadn't been quite so influential, but this seems a tad hyperbolic.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yes but it's hardly crazy to suggest the collapse of Bretton Woods is relevant, is it? See, for example, Dani Rodrik's post on his blog today, citing James Tobin circa 1979.

Unknown said...

Not crazy, no, but even within the post-Bretton Woods framework, things might have evolved very differently. The crux of the matter, really, is the way China has managed its exchange rate and, more generally its economy, choosing to finance huge US current account deficits by recycling its surplus into US paper. Many consequences, both good and ill, have flowed from that decision, and I don't see how that would have been significantly different.

Unknown said...

James,
I've just re-read Tobin's note, and he says exactly what I've just said: "I believe that the basic problem today is not the exchange rate regime, whether fixed or floating. Debate on the regime evades and obscures the essential problem. That is the excessive international-or better, inter-currency-mobility of private financial capital." In other words, the end of Bretton Woods is not the crux.

Anonymous said...

At least Alan Greenspan is around to see the wreck that he created. He did a mea culpa today before Congress admitting that his free market philosophy had failed. About time, and I will give him credit for admitting his error.

Unknown said...

Well, sort of admitting his error. He said he had detected a "flaw" in his vision of the world. He did not say that its foundations had crumbled. As apologies go, it was long on mea and short on culpa.

Tom Holzman said...

Saying that he had failed to see that the banks could not self-regulate is a pretty significant culpa in my view.

Unknown said...

“Were you wrong?” Mr. Waxman asked.

“Partially,” the former Fed chairman reluctantly answered, before trying to parse his concession as thinly as possible. (NY Times)

Unknown said...

Going back to Michel Rocard, if I may, I have always thought that at least two people were absolutely right about him, his father Yves and Mitterrand of course who chuckled and named him a minister of planning in a country that had abandoned planning. In other news, does he still have unresolved issues with his analyst?

Unknown said...

What did his father say about him?

Unknown said...

Scathing words, in the "idiot de la famille" vein...

For those who don't know who his father was, he was a gifted physicist often credited with inventing the French H bomb (though this is said to have received some US help).

Thus his father was more in the edward teller vein than in the oppenheimer vein, politically of course.

Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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