When Obama Meets His Banker

An assortment of European leaders gathered last week at a tepid commemoration of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Twenty years ago the collapse of communism was hailed as the final triumph of western liberal democracy, which would sweep aside the vestiges of authoritarianism everywhere. So the downbeat tenor of this year’s anniversary was hardly surprising, since it hasn’t quite worked out that way: not only has authoritarianism proven remarkably resilient, but the western economies have suffered a near cataclysmic collapse as a result of allowing their bankers too much freedom and creativity.

Barack Obama didn’t go to Berlin, but this week he visits China – arguably the big winner from the global economic changes that began in earnest in 1989. China certainly passed through its own dramatic convulsion in 1989 in Tiananmen Square, but that anniversary went largely unmarked in June. Nor should anyone expect that Mr Obama will bring it up; or, for that matter, the execution last week of nine Uighurs accused of fomenting deadly protests in Xinjiang this year. Telling your bank manager to stop beating his wife is hardly prudent when you’re running an $800 billion overdraft.

The twist, two decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall, is that most of the countries thus liberated from authoritarian one-party rule are currently struggling to emerge from recession, while China – with a self-appointed ruling party that ruthlessly defends its monopoly on power – has been such a rip-roaring capitalist success that it feels compelled to protect its investment in the US by advising the Obama administration to rein in deficit spending. History, it seems, has a wicked sense of humour.

The Chinese leadership have always understood that successful capitalism is not contingent on democracy. In their immediate neighborhood alone, authoritarian regimes in Taiwan, South Korea and Singapore are spectacular capitalist rags-to-riches stories. So they surged along the capitalist road without relinquishing their absolute political control. Eastern Europe got freedom, goes the saying, China got rich.

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11 Responses to When Obama Meets His Banker

  1. Warren Metzler says:

    You blame the bankers for the financial crisis. I suggest an alternative. Due to the current consciousness present in all humans a significant increase in moral corruption was present in most Americans beginning in the 1990’s.

    Citizens became greedy and made stupid decisions to buy houses they couldn’t afford; and treat their houses as piggy banks, which they are not.

    Bankers became greedy and stupid and made mortgage loans that would have been considered insane ten years prior. An example being giving a $500,000.00 loan with no money down and no income verification.

    Financial types became greedy and stupid and began to believe it was prudent to make money through bets (derivatives, etc.) instead of through the time honored means of purchasing and nurturing assets.

    When all the layers of financial action in a country, or the world; citizens, bankers and finance types; become greedy and stupid, a major financial crisis is unavoidable.

    And it sure as heck can’t be fixed by increased government spending, or by bailing out greedy bankers and financial types.

  2. barrack obama good man i love barrack. but america cant love obama 🙁

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  4. Cris Osea says:

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