The bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers–with more financial institutions to follow, no one knows how quickly–is the product of greed and deregulation embraced by Republicans and Democrats alike.
THE LATEST chaos on Wall Street–the worst financial upheaval in the U.S. since the Great Depression of the 1930s–highlights not just the scale of the world financial crisis, but the needless destruction caused by the blind competition at the core of capitalism.
The Wall Street crisis will almost certainly make the current economic slump worse. A shadow banking system beyond the reach of regulators in the U.S. or any other country is crashing down, destabilizing the world financial system. Even before the latest crisis, Bill Gross of Pimco, a big money-management firm, warned that an uncontrolled liquidation of debt by financial institutions “can turn a campfire into a forest fire, a mild asset bear market into a destructive financial tsunami.”
The risk of such a catastrophe is growing. As hundreds of billions of dollars in financial assets vaporize, banks will be forced to raise interest rates to increase the amount of money they have in their reserves. This, in turn, will cut off credit to business and consumers alike, further choking an anemic economy. Continue reading