June 11, 2012 Leave a Comment
What is it with these Republicans? The entire theory of free markets depends on ‘the market’ having access to information — prices, quality, ability to extrapolate costs and prices based on knowledge of the health of the farms, fields and factories. It absolutely requires freedom of information; with out it there are no markets, there are deals, fast deals, strokes of luck and blows of fortune. Yet, with every breath they take, the Republicans try to bottle up, obscure, or completely hide the information that is needed.
The preceding article on GOP trying to strip full disclosure on political ads is one example among hundreds.
The full page ad on the back of the NY Times Sunday Book Review, for Edward Conrad’s new book, “Unintended Consequences: Why Everything You’ve Been Told About the Economy is Wrong,” is another, trifling but instructive, example. Although the cover informs us he was a former managing director of Bain Capital, you’d hardly know from the blurbs in the ad that this isn’t at least an honest attempt at fresh analysis and explanation.
It is a statement of faith, say the Nicene Creed, masquerading as a history and analysis of competing views of a famous man.
In fact, the book is almost jaw-dropping in its exculpation of big capital for what has just befallen the United States, and the world, claiming that what is most needed is more of Bain Capital’s kind of buy-the-cow-to-suck-the-marrow agricultural wisdom.
If he is so proud of his brand of economics why doesn’t he insist his book be marketed as what it is, a claim that Bain-Romney capitalism benefits the most by benefiting the fewest with the most? Why? Because book sales would tank. Only the readers in the .1% would be interested. By selling it as a new look at an old field, filled with surprising wisdom, and by getting blurbs from Freakonics’ Leavitt, the famed Nouriel Roubini and others of a not obviously partisan stamp a wider universe of eyes is beckoned to.
There is a lot available before you buy, revealing the true faith of Mr. Conrad, a faith like so many, that depends not at all on beliefs matching reality, so caveat emptor.
Adam Davidson in the NY Times did a good review of the Bain Beliefs, and actually talked to Roubini, whose blurb is meant to help Conrad’s sales.
At its core, Conard’s book addresses what is perhaps the most important question in economics, the one Adam Smith set out to answer in “The Wealth of Nations”: Why do some countries grow so rich and others stay poor? Where you come down on the answer has as much to do with your politics as your economic worldview (two things that can often be the same). Glenn Hubbard, a prominent economist and one of Romney’s chief economic advisers, takes his ideas seriously. “He doesn’t have the blinders of a model-based view of the world, which is an advantage and a disadvantage,” Hubbard told me. Others, like the progressive economist Dean Baker, were less kind. “I can’t say there was much I found compelling,” he told me. The celebrated New York University economist Nouriel Roubini went out of his way to say that he had “great intellectual respect for his sharp mind,” even if he didn’t agree on numerous points, especially the benefits of inequality.
Wonkette offers a more snarky take on Conrad’s blaming the plebes for chicken-shitting-out on an entirely correctable bank-run.
And Joseph Stiglitz actually takes on Conrad and his weird financial history.
Back to my lede… yes, Conrad is open about his faith. What he hides is what is hidden from those not at the very core of his buy ‘em and rend ‘em and sell ‘em practice.