Yet another book about the financial crisis of 2008 is out, this one trying to sum up centrist contemporary wisdom in one easy volume. It is entitled, with painful predictability, The System Worked. Without having seen or heard of the author, one can easily conjure a vision of the chin-stroking Boston professor who sat in his book-lined study to pen this tome with a carefully built arsenal of selective evidence. Good for reviewer Jonathan Kirshner who has the patience to dismantle it in equivalent detail and pound a stake into its heart with this closing paragraph:
High finance, drunk on systemic risk, drove its Maserati ever more recklessly until it inevitably crashed, totaling the real economy. Inside the car, the seat belts held and the airbags deployed. Emergency crews rushed to the scene. Climbing from the wreck, finance dusted itself off and expressed regret about the unforeseeable accident. Its government-sponsored no-fault insurance promptly provided a shiny new replacement. As public officials tossed over the keys, they gently asked if a bit more care might be taken on the roads, a request barely audible over the sound of screeching tires. The system worked especially well—for some.
Yes, ‘The System’ scored a success in keeping the wheels turning and preserving the wealth and privilege of the wealthy and privileged. But the fact that it did not completely collapse last time does not mean that it will survive the next financier assault.