Friday, September 19, 2008

Robert Reich's solution: honesty

The crisis on Wall Street right now is less about solvency and about capital than it is about trust. And the real question is, How do you restore trust to a system in which, basically, nobody trusts the numbers that are supplied by big banks on securities?
—Robert Reich, interviewed on Marketplace

That's a great idea, Robert (although America probably is insolvent). We could bring a culture of honesty and fairness to Wall Street. Brilliant. However, since Wall Street has never been honest, nor fair, ever, it might be a difficult idea to implement. But I have an idea for a good way to start: the US government could set an example. The government could instruct the Bureau of Labor Statistics to produce accurate statistics instead of horseshit for a change.

First, how about an honest CPI series, instead of ridiculous fantasy numbers? Even the mainstream media is starting to report the CPI with skepticism and sometimes sarcasm. Then, we could have an honest data series for the gross domestic product! Imagine - numbers that businesses and the American people trust.

Note that none of this would cost billions of dollars. The government could just stop lying.

After that, some pretty simple, common sense finance regulation would avoid all this insane mortgage bond trouble. Twenty percent down payment for a house. No off-balance sheet liabilities for corporations (or the government). Its not that hard.

I realize that admitting we have out of control inflation, negative economic growth, and un-payable debts would send this country into the worst depression ever, but that will happen in any case. We should admit our insolvency, and start building an honest nation.

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