Simon Johnson: Wall Street’s Stranglehold on Our Democracy Must Be Broken
By Zach Carter and Simon Johnson, AlterNet
Posted on April 17, 2010, Printed on April 18, 2010
Simon Johnson is the former chief economist for the International Monetary Fund, and co-founder of the Baseline Scenario, a blog about the financial crisis and financial reform. He is a professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management and a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. Johnson’s latest book, 13 Bankers (co-authored with Baseline Scenario co-founder James Kwak) is a detailed examination of Wall Street’s political and ideological power and the devastating economic results. AlterNet’s economics editor Zach Carter recently talked with Johnson about the U.S. banking system.
Zach Carter: Your push to break up the largest banks into smaller banks that can actually fail without wreaking havoc on the economy has been very well-received by progressives. But historically, the IMF and the Federal Reserve are not exactly hotbeds of progressive thought. How did you and Paul Volcker become the vanguard of the economic left?
Simon Johnson: The ideas that we’re advancing both in Baseline Scenario and in the book should appeal to people on the right, the center and the left. There’s an article by Arnold Kling that we wrote about on Baseline Scenario. He’s a libertarian, which I am not, but he’s come around to our way of thinking about the banks. If you think about it from the right, our financial system is just monstrously unfair. It’s not in any way a market economy to have these banks who are so big that the government can’t let them fail. They have funding advantages over other banks, and those advantages only encourage them to get bigger. That’s just not reasonable.