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2008 03 19
Bear Stearns: Economic Meltdown Changes Everything

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If you find Monday’s bailout of Bear Stearns by U.S. regulators to be more than a little hypocritical, well, join the rest of us. The so-called free market once again showed how it is anything but free, and that any absolute power—in this case the power of greed—corrupts absolutely. But where is the lesson that should be learned by an investment sector that ignored the need for risk management? By its actions, the U.S. government is showing that there is no lesson to be learned, or no penalty to be given. It also shows that in spite of its right-wing rhetoric, the “freest” world economy can and does interfere with the marketplace. Ironically, that’s good news for environmentalists. Now that the U.S. government has set this precedent, the right’s self-serving arguments about non-interference in free markets no longer apply. And now everyone knows it.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that the financial market place should be done away with or should be allowed to meltdown. What I am saying is that this week’s events clearly illustrate the role regulatory controls play in a complex world. There is a lesson here, but it is not, unfortunately to the free markets whose actions precipitated this crisis—they’ve been spared that rod. The lesson is to people and governments everywhere. We are reminded by the Bear Stearns fiasco that collectively we do have the obligation, power, and right to use whatever regulatory levers exist to both save the economy, and save the environment. After all, what is more important, the financial health of rule-breaking investment firms that benefit the few, or the long-term health of the environment that benefits everyone?

Written yesterday at http://www.corporateknightsforum.com
[email this story] Posted by R Ouellette on 03/19 at 11:31 AM

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