The Intellectual Origins of the Global Financial Crisis

By Roger Berkowitz; Taun N. Toay | Go to book overview

TEN
The Roots of the Crisis

SANJAY G. REDDY

Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intel-
lectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Mad-
men in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy
from some academic scribbler of a few years back. I am sure that the power
of vested interests is vastly exaggerated compared with the gradual en-
croachment of ideas. Not, indeed, immediately, but after a certain inter-
val; for in the field of economic and political philosophy there are not
many who are influenced by new theories after they are twenty-five or
thirty years of age, so that the ideas which civil servants and politicians
and even agitators apply to current events are not likely to be the newest.
But, soon or late, it is ideas, not vested interests, which are dangerous for
good or evil
.—JOHN MAYNARD KEYNES, THE GENERAL
THEORY OF EMPLOYMENT, INTEREST AND MONEY

The financial crisis itself has made it possible to have a new kind of conversation across the trenches of disciplines—the kind that is taking place in this volume. I do not think it would have been possible to have this sort of conversation five or ten years ago. There is a sense of shock that accompanies an unexpected event of this magnitude, and a searching for answers. This has rightly undermined previous disciplinary prerogatives and created a more welcoming atmosphere for new approaches.

Academics in various disciplines, as well as ordinary citizens, quite legitimately want to know what exactly happened, and how it is going to affect their futures. We have a new level of interest in economic questions and some skepticism about the previous answers provided. Economists in particular have been scrambling to provide answers, often in a rather ex-post manner. Precious few of them predicted anything like this particular event. Very few understood the current microstructure of the

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