Thursday, June 23, 2011

QOTD

. Thursday, June 23, 2011

From Ezra Klein, upon watching Inside Job:

It was an excellent documentary for people who don’t want to understand the financial crisis but want to believe they would’ve seen it coming. Watching it, you’d think that the only people who missed the meltdown were corrupt fools, and the way to spot the next one is to have fewer corrupt fools. But that’s not true. ...

There’s a lot to dislike about Wall Street. The pay. The culture. In many cases, the people. But that doesn’t explain what happened in 2007 and 2008. ...

What’s remarkable about the financial crisis isn’t just how many people got it wrong, but how many people who got it wrong had an incentive to get it right. Journalists. Hedge funds. Independent investors. Academics. Regulators. Even traders, many of whom had most of their money tied up in their soon-to-be-worthless firms. “Inside Job” is perhaps strongest in detailing the conflicts of interest that various people had when it came to the financial sector, but the reason those ties were “conflicts” was that they also had substantial reasons — fame, fortune, acclaim, job security, etc. — to get it right.

And ultimately, that’s what makes the financial crisis so scary. The complexity of the system far exceeded the capacity of the participants, experts and watchdogs.


Extreme ignorance is still an underrated explanatory variable in models of the crisis.

I've previously written about a few of Inside Job's deficiencies here and here and here. A general rule is that smug explanations of the crisis are wrong.

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