Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Squishy Values Stuff, But Very Important

Check this out, at Mark Thoma's site, on "Financial Community Norms."

I think Thoma has latched onto something that has escaped the notice of a lot of other commentators during this crisis. Namely, that the rot in our system may go pretty deep and must be addressed at that level. We need to take a second look at attitudes and values and norms. It sounds like squishy stuff, but we ignore it at our own risk. We've produced a financial culture now that accepts that crass self-enrichment and naked ambition and the relentless pursuit of loopholes (meet the letter of the law, but not its spirit) are one hundred percent okay. You get yours, I get mine, and who cares who gets hurt. Capitalism is a rough game that's not for sissies.

I'm not sure what the answer to the narrow-mindedness and greed is. Good luck trying to embed a moral compass in every MBA's butt. Unfortunately, the U.S. government's craven approach to the big banks, and its failure to knock them down to size, probably ensures that very few cultural changes will take place.