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Galbraith:

There seems little question that in 1929, modifying a famous cliche, the economy was fundamentally unsound. This is a circumstance of first-rate importance. Many things were wrong, but five weaknesses seem to have had an especially intimate bearing on the ensuing disaster. They are:

(1) The bad distribution of income. [...]

(2) The bad corporate structure. [...]

(3) The bad banking structure [...]

(4) The dubious state of the foreign balance. [...]

(5) The poor state of economic intelligence. [...]

  1. Highly unequal income distribution. Check.

  2. Weakened corporate system, largely submissive to financial actors. Check.

  3. Cascading margin calls on banks. Check.

  4. Excessive current accounts surplus. Nope.

  5. The conventional economic wisdom out to lunch. Check.

Well, four out of five ain't too bad.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Aug 22nd, 2009 at 11:54:56 AM EST
But the US would be better off were it five of five.  Having a current account surplus at this time would be a major benefit.  Instead we have what is probably an unprecedented deficit.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Aug 24th, 2009 at 04:31:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I would say that

The dubious state of the foreign balance.

fits even better with an unprecedented deficit then with excessive current accounts surplus.

Though I am not sure if it would fit the rest of point 4, and Amazon requires an account for letting me search through the book online.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Wed Aug 26th, 2009 at 05:55:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Excessive surpluses carry a different bag of challenges. Namely the contractionary impact they have on the rest of the world, and the fact that during a financial meltdown of 1929 proportions, money stops flowing easily across borders to finance trade deficits.

So overseas countries with current account deficits w.r.t. the US had to scale back on those deficits by increasing exports and/or foregoing imports. This is, of course, a further contractionary effect for the US.

Moreover, the depressing effect of US-made imports on their economies will further provoke them to improve their trade balance during a downturn in domestic employment rates. The contractionary effect of imports will not be an issue in the absence of mass unemployment, so there is likely to be some slack available. This has, as noted, further contractionary effect on the US.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Aug 28th, 2009 at 02:50:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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