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The real culprits are IMHO financial deregulation and exploding income inequality, the combination of which channels ever more funds to increasingly exotic investments in search of higher returns. Real interest rates were on average lower before 1970 than they have been since, and we didn't have these kind of asset bubbles developing.

There has been a technological sea change, enabling much faster creation and trade of all sorts of financial instruments, and computer driven, arbitrage-seeking trading strategies driving massive volumes.

There has been an ideological sea change, making greed good, and defining monetary value as the main arbiter of value, leading to a focus on financial management as opposed to industrial or soci-economic strategies.

There have been massive global imbalances, requiring a lot more financial engineering to deal with.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Oct 7th, 2007 at 05:53:36 AM EST
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There has also been an engineered political sea change which has eliminated the influence of labour from the political process.

And a useful redefinition and splitting of the working classes into pseudo-managerial and pseudo-entrepreunerial roles which give the illusion of participation while denying real power, while making unionisation very much more difficult.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Oct 7th, 2007 at 09:41:54 AM EST
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If you go back pre-New Deal there were also periodic asset bubbles in the US from the War of 1812 through the early 1930s, often driven by global imbalances (e.g. the panics of 1837, 1857, and 1931-33) and enabled by changes in transport and communications technology (steamships, telegraph) that integrated global markets.

So asset bubbles and busts enabled by technological change and transmitted through international financial markets are nothing new in the long view, although they are new for us.

by TGeraghty on Sun Oct 7th, 2007 at 08:57:56 PM EST
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