If one seeks analysis about the recent financial crisis, and what most probably lies ahead, it would be wise to place particular weight on the views of economists who saw it coming (and ideally those who provided careful analysis rather than hyperbole). I've cited a paper by Reinhart and Rogoff above, which was published by the National Bureau of Economic Research in January of 2008. At a speech at the Princeton Club last week, economist Carmen Reinhart reiterated that by propping up unhealthy banks, the
With the financial markets cheerily celebrating the end of the recession, credit spreads back to 2007 levels, and analysts referring to the mortgage crisis as largely a thing of the past, it is natural to ask why I would start pounding the tables again about debt restructuring. Old news. Problem solved. Why even bring it up?
The simple answer is that we have not solved the mortgage mess. We have temporarily buried it under a pile of public money, bailing out bank bondholders at public expense. As I've noted before, the best time to panic, in the financial markets, is before everyone else does. Similarly, the best time to consider responses to credit strains is before they surface. My sincere hope is that if, and I believe when, financial trouble resurfaces, we will be wise enough as a nation to prevent policy makers like Geithner and Bernanke from making the same bailout mistakes twice, protecting irresponsible lenders, and further burdening the nation with debt in the process.