Monday, July 19, 2010

Inequality and the crisis (ls)

Raghu Rajan wrote an illuminating article about inequality in the US, which is in his opinion the major underlying source of the subprime crisis.

Some teasers:

"Therefore, the political response to rising inequality – whether carefully planned or the path of least resistance – was to expand lending to households, especially low-income households. The benefits – growing consumption and more jobs – were immediate, whereas paying the inevitable bill could be postponed into the future." 

"The left favored flows to their natural constituency, while the right welcomed new property owners who could, perhaps, be convinced to switch party allegiance. More low-income housing credit has been one of the few issues on which President Bill Clinton’s administration, with its affordable-housing mandate, and that of President George W. Bush, with its push for an “ownership” society, agreed."

"The broader implication is that we need to look beyond greedy bankers and spineless regulators (and there were plenty of both) for the root causes of this crisis. And the problems are not solved with a financial regulatory bill entrusting more powers to those regulators. America needs to tackle inequality at its root, by giving more Americans the ability to compete in the global marketplace. This is much harder than doling out credit, but more effective in the long run. "