Wednesday, April 01, 2009

anglo-american capitalism on trial

NYTimes | In many ways, the new order was the legacy of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, embodying the common beliefs in freedom that had bound the wartime alliance, as they had infused the wider bonds between what Churchill called “the English-speaking peoples” since the flowering of liberal thought in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Just as Roosevelt and Churchill shared that bond, so, now, do Mr. Obama and Mr. Brown. Both men, reacting to events on Wall Street, in the City and in other financial centers, have spoken, with unaccustomed asperity, of the greed and irresponsibility of bankers, hedge-fund managers and others who, the two men have as much as said, have betrayed the system and come close to wrecking it.

Now, the conviction that the system must be rebuilt to curb future excesses forms a starting point for the reforms that will come under discussion in London. Like Mr. Brown’s, President Obama’s message to his own compatriots has focused on ways of revitalizing the system, often to the exasperation of those among their supporters who would favor more radical measures.

Even as both men have embarked on enormous increases in public-sector spending, they have maintained that solutions to the crisis lie in reawakening the markets and recapitalizing the banks, rather than having the government take them over, and in placing financial institutions under closer supervision rather than tearing at the system’s foundations. And both, when they respond to public anger at the private sector, have seemed more geared to managing that anger than stoking it.