Brecht Forum Panel Discusses Left Views on the EconomyNYC 25 Feb 2008 07:09 GMT
Henwood, editor of the Left Business Observer, broke down the mechanics of the housing and real estate market in relation to the economic downturn. He argued that the unwarranted but common assumption that housing is guaranteed to increase in value over time, combined with a predatory credit industry, is responsible for the current financial wreckage. Non-imperialist countries would have the IMF knocking on their door to make things more capitalist-friendly, but here in the US the job of corporate bail-outs and "structural adjustments" will be left to a potential Democratic administration.
Lewis Lapham, editor of Lapham's Quarterly, cited Thomas Beer's statement that "Money does not rule democracy. Money is democracy" to introduce his view that American history is a history of a long series of economic bubbles driven by a culture built on the worship of money. Prins, a former managing director at Goldman Sachs, described how the types of bubbles responsible for the current spate of foreclosures and debt do not happen on their own accord, but are created by players in the financial system, notably on Wall Street. Rosenblatt spoke mainly about the Manhattan real estate market, describing how it often appears to be exempt from nation-wide economic trends. Finding no takers in the room for his prescription that an unfettered free market is the way forward, Rosenblatt ended humorously, offering real estate investment advice to the audience.
In the discussion period, some audience members sought to sound a more optimistic note. This was not readily picked up by the panelists, however. Henwood remarked that Barack Obama, by all counts a conventional Democrat, will not deliver on the expactations many have of him. As for optimism, he could only hope that the "radicalizing power of disillusionment" could lead to better things.