Host, Max Fraad Wolff:
Age of Greed offers a long survey of the rise of regulation liberated financial markets and actors. The historical sweep is artful and well presented. The text argues for a return to more caged financial markets and actors. The steady and mounting pressures on the American middle class are correlated with the rising excesses, fortunes and missteps of financiers and their vehicles. The personal biographies are well chosen, convincingly presented and illustrative.
The deregulatory trajectory outlined in Age of Greed for finance could be applied to many other sectors as well. We have seen airlines, electricity, pharma, communication, media and many other industries be significantly deregulated. Finance is the preferred case study in excess over recent years. While there are many and strong arguments for this choice, the uniqueness of this sector is not its deregulation. Financial markets and actors have simply been an element of structural change in the American economy and polity.
As the middle class slips into the annals of history, finance has and continues to play a role. However, 30 years of stagnant wages, prevailing ideology among politicians and global business regulation are not all the work or effect of financial machinations. In nations and regions where financial firms/markets are much weaker we have seen similar trends. The question remains, are financial markets cause or effect of declining equality, wages and social democracy?
Jeff Madrick has made a well researched, well presented and thought through addition to a vital debate. The size of financial markets’ role in rising inequality of income, wealth and opportunity is still very much open to debate.
We look forward to exploring this and other themes in our book salon.
[As a courtesy to our guests, please keep comments to the book. Please take other conversations to a previous thread. - bev]