Sunday, August 30, 2009

Will Wall Street Return to its Old Ways?

Thanks to blogger Albertasaurus Talks I just came across a Toronto Star piece by David Olive entitled "The Era of Big Government Already in Retreat." It is worth a read.

David Olive says "Never in history, perhaps, has avarice spent so little time in hibernation." The meltdown of capitalism last September saw job losses for 7 million people in North America and an "abrupt global credit freeze" that wiped out "trillions of dollars of net worth of retirees and others as stock market property values plunged 40% and more." Olive says "Capitalism failed, again."

"Capitalism had failed, again. If a few avaricious pinheads in the financial markets could wreak such havoc so swiftly on the general population, then we would reinvent capitalism to make it more socially beneficial. It was that belief, of an urgent renaissance on the horizon, that helped keep the terror at bay last winter and spring."

Instead of using this recession to retool and rethink the regulation of capital markets, Olive argues the opportunity is lost and "We have gone back to living in ordinary times." This is because the Obama reforms, according to Olive, have already been stymied by "Wall Street lobbyists" and the argument is reform would be too expensive.

The same people who crated this crisis in confidence in the financial sector blithely discount the trillions of taxpayer bailout dollars for Wall Street in buying up their unregulated "toxic assets" that have devastated the wealth of ordinary people. That has not been too expensive because without real reform to ensure uncontrolled greed and avarice, we will not have learned from these mistakes in governance and be doomed to repeat them.

If Wall Street is allowed to return to business as abnormal without real regulatory reform, we are only one more greed induced disaster away from depression and devastation.

Canadians governments mostly followed the American lead and act as policy takers, not policy makers. Without some serious self-interest to decouple that political and policy approach we too will be sucked into the next American demise. This is not the kind of political discourse that gets sound bites or slogan journalism coverage. It is too complex and confounding to be approached from a simple-minded communications. To happen, it will have to emerge from citizens in op-ed, think-tanks, universities, thought leaders and maybe even a few bloggers.

It is time for some made in Canada and made for Canada economic and environment policy that just isn't American lite. We have done it in our social policy for years. Just look at the differences in health care, abortion, guns, public education, immigration, gay marriage to name a few.

The best chance for this to happen will be in Alberta and British Columbia because they are still exporters of commodities that beg for more local value added production and new markets beyond the U.S. As well the energy commodities produced have significant environmental issues that should and must be resolved locally and aimed at setting new planet-friendly standards globally.