Gérard Longuet, le patron des sénateurs UMP, a déclenché une polémique, mercredi 10 mars, en jugeant préférable de nommer à la Halde quelqu'un du "corps français traditionnel" plutôt que le socialiste Malek Boutih. M. Boutih est "un homme de grande qualité mais ce n'est pas le bon personnage" pour présider la Haute Autorité de lutte contre les discriminations et pour l'égalité, a déclaré le patron des sénateurs UMP, invité de "Questions d'Info LCP-France Info-AFP".
A la question de savoir pourquoi M. Boutih ne correspondait pas, à ses yeux, au poste, il a répondu : "Parce qu'il vaut mieux que ce soit le corps français traditionnel qui se sente responsable de l'accueil de tous nos compatriotes. Si vous voulez, les vieux Bretons et les vieux Lorrains – qui sont d'ailleurs en général italiens ou marocains – doivent faire l'effort sur eux-mêmes de s'ouvrir à l'extérieur." "Si vous mettez quelqu'un de symbolique, extérieur, vous risquez de rater l'opération", a insisté M. Longuet.
Le PS, par la voix de son numéro deux, Harlem Désir, s'est aussitôt dit "scandalisé" par ces propos, demandant à l'UMP de les "condamner immédiatement avec la plus grande fermeté et à M. Longuet de présenter des excuses publiques à Malek Boutih". "Ces propos sont bien plus qu'un dérapage, une véritable théorie raciale totalement contraire à l'idée de la nation républicaine et à l'égalité des droits entre les citoyens de toutes origines", a affirmé l'eurodéputé, en estimant que de telles assertions méritaient une saisine de la Halde.
LONGUET AVOUE UNE "EXPRESSION MALADROITE"
Interrogé mercredi soir sur Europe 1, Gérard Longuet a expliqué que son "expression était peut-être raccourcie et maladroite". Il a toutefois maintenu le sens de ses propos en affirmant que "dans la symbolique, ce serait bien que la lutte contre la discrimination, et en particulier contre la discrimination raciale, soit appropriée par tous ceux qui ne se sentent pas concernés. Ceux qui se sentent protégés et qui au contraire doivent faire cet effort d'ouverture".
Fustigeant également des propos "d'un autre siècle", le porte-parole du PS, Benoît Hamon, a jugé sur Public Sénat que "le rapport de la droite à l'immigration est consternant". "Ce n'est plus un dérapage, c'est une chute libre", a réagi le PCF dans un communiqué.
Même indignation du côté de SOS-Racisme : "La vision véhiculée par M. Longuet (...) montre la conception ethnique qu'il s'en fait et qui rappelle la France de Maurras, en contradiction avec la France républicaine qu'il est censé incarner", a dénoncé l'association antiraciste. "Nous, on a des militants qui ne sont pas du 'corps français traditionnel'. Le 'corps français traditionnel', c'est quelque chose qui pue, c'est quelque chose qui ne sent pas bon", a expliqué Olivier Besancenot, leader du Nouveau Parti anticapitaliste (NPA). "On voit qu'une fois de plus, le gouvernement, l'UMP, font tout ce qu'ils peuvent pour siphonner les voix de l'extrême droite", a insisté la tête de liste NPA en Ile-de-France.
Naively, no doubt, I had rather supposed that babies and bars didn't mix. I was wrong: In Brooklyn, it seems, they do. In Park Slope, where pricey strollers dominate the streets, they can also be found in drinking establishments. One, Union Hall, caused an uproar when it banned strollers from the premises in 2008. Nearby Double Windsor has split the baby, as it were, with its rule: No babies in the bar after 5 p.m.
Of course, I can imagine what the defenders of taking babies into bars might say. What is your evidence that bars are bad for babies? Has there ever been a controlled study of the question published in the New England Journal? Is it not possible, even, that bars are good for babies' cognitive development - all that social interaction and linguistic stimulation, etc.?
The argument might continue: Bored mothers are bad for babies, and bars keep boredom at bay. Babies are too young to remember any bad language they might hear or recall any unseemly scenes they might witness. Besides, the onus of proof is on those who want to forbid, not on those who want to permit.
This is sophistical, of course. The real reason that people take babies to bars is that they do not want to admit that the existence of their offspring imposes inescapable obligations on them, and that a baby closes off some of their options. They cannot, or at least ought not to, be footloose and fancy free any more. They are not Peter Pan: They have to grow up.
But it is not only in the bars of Brooklyn that babies and young children are inappropriately to be found. An air traffic controller recently gave his young son and daughter a go at controlling the air traffic at JFK.
Splendid as this might be from the point of view of the child's brain development and hand-to-eye coordination, it is not altogether reassuring for passengers, even though this incident passed without mishap. I remember a Russian pilot who gave the control of his airliner to his son and it crashed, killing all aboard: Though it must be admitted by anyone who has flown an Aeroflot internal flight, especially in the good old days, that it didn't take a child at the controls to make disaster likely.
Some art galleries now cater to children, not in the reasonable and welcome sense of setting aside a special room for them, but by giving them puzzles and toys to play with directly under a work of art, allegedly connected in some way with that work of art.
Now everyone must be in favor of inducting children into the marvels of civilization, but surely not at the cost of turning art galleries into playgrounds, or giving them manuscripts from, say, the Pierpont Morgan Library to color in. There is a time and a place for everything, and it isn't necessarily here and now.
In fact, we are a little confused about the place we should give children and the control we should exercise over them. Sometimes we treat them as if they were already fully adult, capable of exercising proper choice over everything. I often see mothers solicitously asking their 3-year-olds what they would like to eat, which no doubt makes for a quiet life in the short-term, but in the long establishes a childish pattern of eating. Mothers of old who made their children eat their hated greens were not just sadists.
At other times, we treat the world as if it were nothing but a vast trap waiting to ensnare children. Roman legionaries seemed ill-equipped for battle by comparison with modern children going for a bike-ride.
So we veer - I almost said drunkenly - between neglect and overindulgence. We are unsure whether babies are adults or adults are babies. Especially in Brooklyn.
Police across several European countries have taken part in a co-ordinated operation to arrest over 40 notorious internet Francophiles.
Operation ‘Dans La Merde’ has been monitoring the activities of suspected Francophiles for the last 18 months, gathering evidence on a number of ringleaders believed to be responsible for running websites dedicated to the trade in sickening photos of historic French landmarks and idyllic rural scenery.
UK police forces across several counties were involved in the sting operation, supported by members of Interpol and the English Tourist Board. During one early morning raid on a mobile home near the port of Dover, police captured 3 laptop computers as well as large numbers of CDs, materials for making baguettes and pains au chocolat, wine bottles both full and empty, and what can only be described as a range of soft cheeses.
The owners of the camper van are believed to be a Mr and Mrs Harvey (48 and 45) from Kent, who have a long record of promoting the French lifestyle and who were about to embark on a 3 week trip around Picardy, Normandy and the Loire Valley to seek out likely sites for other Francophiles to set up 2nd homes. Mr & Mrs Harvey were arrested by French police last summer and charged with grooming locals in an attempt to gain their trust before retired middle-class British people inveigled themselves into their communities.
At a similar site in Felixstowe, another couple were arrested while trying to escape to the relative safety of the supermarkets of Boulogne. Police believe that the couple were involved in an illegal smuggling operation to bring good quality meats and seafood into the UK.
Jenny Taylor, spokeswoman for the ETB said, ‘This is the most significant operation of its kind in years. We believe that today’s operation has made a giant leap towards eradicating these disgusting practices, and will go a long way towards stopping the spread of French culture and quality goods in our country’.
The head of the UK police operations, Detective Chief Inspector Ridley said that he was pleased that so much had been achieved but issued a stern warning to anyone who may be thinking of dabbling in Francophile practices. ‘We are ever vigilant, we can track your every move and we will catch you. There is no room for this kind of repulsive continental behaviour in this country. Frenchiness will not prevail on my watch’.
When questioned about reports that several of the main targets of today’s raids had evaded capture, DCI Ridley shrugged and said ‘Pah, c’est la vie’.
Noun plus adjective, usually with an interloping hyphen, can be just as unpleasant as adjective plus noun:
The below (hate that, although I'll say "the above") is a concept-based, mission-critical cascade of centric-oriented parameters:
Today I’ll look at the two models to align employee goals being used inorganizations worldwide, people-centric and organization-centric and discuss how they fit in with actually achieving workforce alignment.
A Look Back— People-Centric Alignment
Earlier this decade with the economic downturn, organizations rapidly shifted from growth-mode into preservation-mode. Understandably, business leaders quickly focused on identifying mission-critical tactics to meet near-term financial targets. To make this manageable, some organizations invoked the practice of linking individual goals to their manager’s goals, or people-centric alignment.
While the thinking around making higher-level objectives was solid, the results rarely were. Here’s the typical process for people-centric alignment:
Goals are set first by the CEO of the company.
Each management level then establishes performance goals that are linked to the CEO’s plan.
The process repeats itself (cascades) through the entire management hierarchy, until each contributor defines goals that are linked to his or supervisor’s goals.
Confused? No kidding. It isn’t hard to see why many organizations found it hard to make this model work. It is complex and time consuming and relies too heavily on personal plans. With a people-centric model, one change such as a promotion or termination creates a ripple effect that creates a need to constantly be updating goal plans.
The New Model—Organization-Centric Alignment
The organization-centric model, parallels the existing business planning and budgeting processes of organizations and reduces administrative burden. The organization-centric model works like this:
Objectives are defined first for the company.
Goals are then are broken down across the organizational hierarchy, with goals cascading down three or four levels.
Employee goals are then linked to these organizational objectives.
This process makes it easier to track and communicate progress and results back to the employees, as financial accounting measurement systems are established around an organization (e.g., business unit or department). In this model, success is geared towards the organization, not individuals who may be at risk of leaving or changing roles within the company.
Ultimately, this model enables organizations to adjust quickly to changing business priorities. People and teams can work on common goals, and the process can keep pace with new business realities.
Also, there’s greater visibility at all levels of the organizations as to how exactly the overall workforce will achieve corporate objectives.
In sum, while there are merits to the people-centric approach, the organization-centric model offers a more flexible, measurable and realistic approach to organizationan and employee goal management.
Not according to Douglas Murray, once more debating with (Americans take note) Tariq Ramadan at Intelligence Squared. The debate was broadcast on BBC World Service which, predictably, censored Murray's words:
The motion was “Europe is Failing its Muslims”. I’m happy to say that Flemming Rose and I convincingly won the argument, with the audience voting overwhelmingly (and despite considerable intimidation in the hall on the night) that Europe is not in fact failing its Muslims.
The debate has been edited down for broadcast. My one gripe about this (except for the BBC’s inevitable censorship of my criticisms of the Muslim Council of Britain among other government-paid Muslim-groups - as reported by the Evening Standard here) is that they cut one crucially relevant case study I gave.
One of the two clerics who whipped up hatred against Denmark around the world, in the wake of my colleague Flemming’s commission of depictions of the historical figure Mohammed, arrived in Denmark from Lebanon in the 1990s. He went to Denmark because he has a disabled son. The country which he came from could not look after his child but he knew that Denmark would. And it did. He repaid the society by inciting hatred and violence against it. When such cases can be repeated ad nauseum, it should hardly even have to be pointed out how obscene the motion Flemming and I found ourselves debating really was.
It is grotesque to argue that Europe has failed its Muslims. It has been made repeatedly obvious that it is Islam that has failed Europe, indeed that it is Islam that has failed Muslims. I am delighted that the audience in the hall on the night agreed. And that most of the audience around the world who have emailed me since transmission – currently including people from as far afield as Nigeria, Pakistan and Iraq - appear to agree with that too.
Here it is, courtesy of YouTube. In England we can't get BBC World. Barely three seconds in, Ramadan uses the word "discourse", which alone makes him a liar:
Update: A perceptive comment from reader Larry Landsman, albeit containing the D-word:
In any debate, the audience contains people who feel strongly on either side. The very fact that the lack of civility during statements by presenters occurred exclusively when Douglas Murray was speaking supports his argument.
His opponents have not accepted the norms of Western society which enable us to carry on reasoned intellectual discourse and accept that others' cultural differences need not threaten us. Boos speak quite loudly.
Murray's opposition fails to recognize that they must examine their own attitudes in order to earn the right to criticize others. Perhaps this lesson doesn't appear in the Koran.
From the jeering in the audience and its mindless applause whenever a pro-Islam comment was made, you might have expected the motion to be carried. But there was a huge swing against. Take note, and ignore the shouters. Since Islam cannot win a debate, all it can do is shout.
East Timor president does not want warcrimes tribunal
Why not? Why do genocides and mass-murder, when committed by Muslims on Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, and not-Muslim-enough Muslims consistently go unpunished? Have the Muslims successfully used terror to strike fear in the unbelievers?
See here for more on the independence of East Timor. See here for more information on jihad in Indonesia. See here for more details on the assassination attempt on Catholic Timorese president Jose Ramos-Horta, by "rebels" whose "intentions remain unknown," and whose religion remain unstated.
DILI (AFP) – East Timor President Jose Ramos-Horta on Wednesday denied claims by Amnesty International that he would support a tribunal for abuses committed during Indonesia's occupation.
Amnesty had claimed he was in favour of the establishment of an international tribunal for crimes committed during the 1975-1999 occupation, should the UN Security Council set it up.
But Ramos-Horta said Amnesty International had "inaccurately reported and thus misrepresented" a discussion he had with Amnesty members at the University of Bradford in the United Kingdom on March 5.
"I remain firmly unconvinced that the interests of the victims of my country and the cause of peace and democracy are best served with an international tribunal," he said in a statement.
The president said he told the meeting he would not oppose an international tribunal -- but he would under no circumstances push for it to be established.
East Timor gained formal independence in 2002 after a bloody 24-year occupation by neighbour Indonesia that led to the deaths of up to 200,000 people and there have been calls to try the perpetrators.
A reconciliation commission established jointly by East Timor and Indonesia found in 2008 that while gross human rights were committed by Indonesian forces, there should be no more trials and no further arrests.
In August, Ramos-Horta rubbished a call by Amnesty International for there to be an international tribunal set up.
"Why always should East Timor be an international experiment with international justice? I have opposed and continue to oppose an international tribunal for East Timor," he told reporters.
The president also said restoring good relations with Indonesia is more important than "prosecutorial justice".
Why is it a choice between investigating and prosecuting those responsible for the murder of more than 200,000 people on the one hand, or "restoring good relations" with Indonesia on the other? Why is it that in order to "restore good relations" with Indonesia, it is necessary to sweep 200,000 murders under the rug? Why is it a required precondition wherever non-Muslims attempt to maintain "good relations" with Muslim-majority nations that we "look beyond" their mass murders of us kufirs?
Rajib Karim, 30, from Newcastle was charged with preparing an act of terrorism or assisting another person to commit an act of terrorism between the April 13 2006 and February 25 this year.
Other charges accused him of preparing acts of terrorism abroad, thought to be the Yemen, and sending money to others “knowing or having reasonable cause to suspect that it would or might be used for the purposes of terrorism.”
Karim was held after counter-terrorism officers swooped on the call centre where he worked in Newcastle.He was among 800 staff dealing with passenger bookings in one of BA’s two UK-based call centres. Officers searched the call centre and raided the suspect’s home in Newcastle following his arrest. It is not thought explosive material was discovered.
Have been following the live feed on the Get Surrey website about tonights extraordinary meeting of Surrey Heath Borough Council.
THe majority of councilors voted against the application to demolish the exisiting mosque, a listed Victorian former school, and to build a new one in blatant Islamic style.
This will not be the last of course. Tablighi Jamaat now control the Mosque and they own the land. I read that they also own what was the flourishing Dolphin pub, which was then closed, and have bought or are bidding for a nearby cinema and the Territorial Army building.
On The Brink: Inside the Race to Stop the Collapse of the Global Finance System
by Henry Paulson Jr.
SIMON JOHNSON on HENRY PAULSON'S MISLEADING, SELF-JUSTIFYING MEMOIR
Hank Paulson sounds tough. His gravelly delivery starts out strong. The voice is that of a seasoned and fair-minded cop sorting out the ruffians, and the hard-boiled dialogue is straight from Raymond Chandler. Speaking of his plans to act immediately against some specific financial sector CEOs and their boards of directors, he says “Mr. President, ... we’re going to move quickly and take them by surprise. The first sound they’ll hear is their heads hitting the floor.”
As I say, a great opening. This is exactly what we need—a top-tier Wall Street dealmaker and experienced executive who knows how to bring major-league pressure to good banks gone bad, and who uses that knowledge to depose miscreants while safeguarding the public purse. We might have opened his book worrying about the fact that its author, the man who was charged with confronting Wall Street about the damage it caused to the economy and the country, used to run Goldman Sachs, but immediately he sounds like a big-time poacher turned gamekeeper. We can all sleep that little bit easier.
Or can we? This is only three lines into the book and something already sounds wrong. Haven’t we heard far too much lately about Wall Street attitudes and behavior to take Paulson’s statements so readily at face value? One sentence later and all is clear: Paulson is talking about his takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, an important episode for people working at those Government Sponsored Enterprises, but largely a sideshow to the main business of 2008, which was the complete collapse and the unconditional bailout of the purely private firms—and the people who run them—that dominate Wall Street. Or, rather, the way in which the most “pro-market” people in our economy all became Government Sponsored and made out like bandits along the way.
Paulson sounds tough throughout the book and he has many growling moments that add to the theater. But on the substance that matters—when it came to his friends, associates, and even long-term Street rivals—he was weak. He had a soft and gentle touch. In his mind, no one was really to blame, and (almost) everyone could and would be saved, and at no cost to them—and never mind what that meant to taxpayers and ordinary citizens.
On the Brink is Paulson’s story, or at least a heavily vetted spin on his story. (He keeps no notes and never uses email—this is a smart guy.) The book focuses primarily on the period from September 2008 through the end of the Bush administration. Its author comes across in its pages as honest, overtaken by events, and swamped by odds beyond his control. But in reality he is a prime constructor of modern Wall Street, a man who worked long and hard—alongside his competitors—to bring you the risk-taking and crazy gambling of the 2000s.
That Paulson was also in charge when the Street crashed has its potential ironies, of course. And there is still a chance to save his reputation—that is what this book is all about–with a sophisticated web of misdirection. He seeks to make three closely connected points. If you buy them all, then Hank Paulson is a hero of mythic proportions. If you question even one, the whole house of cards around his reputation—and our current financial sector—starts to tremble like an investment bank facing its creditors.
And if we seriously dispute his interpretation on all three dimensions, then we are looking at something quite different. Far from being a hero (his view), or an unfortunate victim of events beyond his control (the mainstream consensus view), or even a man who was compromised by his deep Wall Street background but tried hard to use this knowledge to turn things around (a position favored by some Democrats), Paulson is something else entirely. He is an integral, if somewhat un-self-aware, component in the mechanism that not only shook down the American taxpayer in 2008-2009, but also set us up for repeated crashes—perhaps with even worse consequences—in the future.
Here are the issues. First, Paulson portrays himself as the thoughtful Wall Street insider who knew—somehow—that a crisis was coming. As he told President Bush, “If you look at recent history, there is a disturbance in the capital markets every four to eight years.” And he confides in the reader, “I was convinced we were due for another disruption.” This is a sensible insight and, if true, would qualify as prescient—although it’s too bad that Paulson turns out to be a procrastinator.
But before we get there—what exactly did Paulson know and when did he know it? This memoir is thin regarding his time at Goldman Sachs. We learn that he pushed out Jon Corzine, and that he built up the firm and internationalized it, but not much else. He talks about the development of financial instruments in and around the housing market in a very detached way, as if he were only an observer. There is no first-person involvement, no sense of the risks being taken and the rewards harvested. Paulson’s line is that he knew enough to be helpful but not enough to have engaged in any fraudulent transactions. Alternatively, he had no idea what was coming. He was just as much in the dark as everyone else running big Wall Street firms. The crisis that hit us was based just as much on his ignorance as it was on yours.
There is also no mention of his own mega-payday. When Paulson joined the Bush administration in July 2006, he was exempted from paying capital-gains tax on the sale of his half-billion dollar holdings of Goldman stock, which presumably saved him (and cost the taxpayer), at least $100 million. Paulson has to be very careful here, of course, because our securities law is tough on anyone who withholds material information when selling securities. So his notions about a future crisis have to be expressed in vague language. If he is more precise, people will start going through his various statements as CEO about the likely future of Goldman or the overall market.
But even at this level, he has a big p.r. problem. There is no mention anywhere in his book of how the crisis was built on the backs of consumers—abused and trampled upon by a banking sector that brags about “ripping the faces off” its customers. And Paulson does not discuss the need for consumer protection vis-à-vis financial products. It’s almost as if he is on a different planet.
Second, Paulson wants to convince you that, once he became secretary of the treasury, he worked hard to head off the growing crisis and prepared for it as much as possible. This is exceedingly hard to believe. All of his policy initiatives were small and late (his programs for homeowners are the best example). Slight pressure was put on lenders and their agents to restructure troubled mortgages—but there was no serious arm-twisting and no real incentive to make progress. If you ask sharp-elbowed financial sector representatives to be nice, it turns out they just ignore you.
Paulson is from the deal-making side of investment banking. He deals with China by meeting lots of top policymakers, but there is no evidence this makes much difference, say, to China’s massively undervalued exchange rate. And there is also no evidence that Hank Paulson ever noticed. He likes to meet important people. His “best” ideas for financial policy and heading off a crisis are always about getting one firm to merge with another, and worrying about the “social issues” that ensue. Those issues are not really about society, of course; they are about who will rule in any merged board room. Still, house prices decline, financial firms enter into distress, and Paulson (and Geithner) fret mainly about whether Goldman can buy another firm or reasonably be bought up.
The prose is flat, the chronology well known—almost cliché by now—but weirdly enough all this is fascinating and somewhat disturbing reading, because you know where it ends. The shakedown, when it comes, is so beautiful that it takes your breath away—rather like watching Nueve Reinas (Nine Queens), the brilliant Argentine financial scam movie.
Here's the set up. The core of the world's financial system teeters. Paulson doesn't want to do another bailout, he thinks. The politics stink, the economics are appalling, and Dick Fuld (the CEO of Lehman) is a difficult fellow. So Paulson lets Lehman fail. But it turns out that the bankruptcy of a major financial firm is an unspeakably messy affair. Paulson had been warned about this, including by the International Monetary Fund (not an ordinary event)—but he was oblivious. We can handle it ourselves, thank you, was Treasury’s attitude.
But they couldn’t. They were absolutely and completely unprepared. This was not a team that was expecting the unexpected; they were asleep at the wheel. Paulson thinks he hired the best people—mostly from Goldman, naturally—and honed them into a sharp-edged tool. The alternative view is that he and his people were incompetent bumblers who had no idea what they were doing or how dangerous modern financial markets have become. So here are the possible interpretations: either the former head of Goldman Sachs saw it all coming and prepared assiduously, or an old-fashioned deals guy—most definitely not a trader—was hopelessly out of his depth and floundered his way to the greatest financial crisis since 1929.
Finally, Paulson really needs you to believe that once the crisis broke, he did what was necessary to save the world’s financial system. As Mrs. Thatcher liked to say, “there is no alternative.” This part of the story has been told much better by Andrew Ross Sorkin in Too Big To Fail. But the great conceit in Paulson’s book is still fascinating. He wants to convince you that the only way to save the American financial system and—by implication—the world’s economy was by keeping Wall Street essentially intact. To be sure, he says that “the Wall Street I knew had come to an end.” But what he means is that the remaining investment banks—including Goldman Sachs—became bank holding companies and therefore, for the first time in history, acquired effective government backing.
So leading financial institutions were saved, which is not by itself an unusual event in some countries. It happens with some regularity in places with serious governance issues and endemic corruption. But even in troubled middle-income countries, such as South Korea, Turkey, Argentina, or even Russia, it is extraordinary to keep management in place when providing such support. Perhaps a few financial executives might be deemed beyond reproach and unfortunate victims of a system-wide panic. But to keep them all, with their base pay and their bonuses and their pensions? That is essentially unheard of. Perhaps there is a poor and benighted country somewhere that saved its massively incompetent financial firms in this manner, but you can search the historical records long and hard for a parallel to what Paulson pulled off.
The fallacy here is complete. Since the entire system failed—in terms of the largest banks and quasi-banks—Paulson and his supporters, including his successor at Treasury, argued that we must treat everyone generously in order to have an economic recovery. But the United States always presses for a much harder approach toward failed bankers in other countries. And with good reason: when the whole system crashes due to reckless risk-taking, you should aim to re-boot with a different incentive structure and, immediately, with much more effective regulation.
It is not hard to save a financial system: you can just throw money at the problem, providing various kinds of unconditional guarantees. This is in effect what Paulson and his colleagues did. Banks will, of course, recover on that basis. If you put the balance sheet of the United States behind any group of firms, investors will stand up and salute. But the point is to save the financial system while not worsening the underlying problems. If “hubris” and “too big to fail” attitudes lurked before 2008, where are they now?
Paulson has the answer, and on this final point he has a moment of clarity, “The largest financial institutions [today] are so big and complex that they pose a dangerously large risk.” Exactly right. So On the Brink turns out to be an interesting and important book, but not at all for the reasons its author thinks. It is really a memoir of modern American power, an account of how we messed up and how our so-called leaders put it all back together—with the same underlying problems now made worse.
Simon Johnson is co-author of 13 Bankers, forthcoming March 30.