Joe Stiglitz on Worldview just now: “financial sector innovation” sucked up capital; that had an opportunity cost, in that “boring industries” with lower returns were starved of capital. (Echoes of Tom Geoghegan writing about unlimited interest in Harper’s last year. Somehow, I didn’t trust him then, but it makes more sense now.)
If our banks had been boring, like the Canadian banks, maybe we’d actually be in a better place right now. And what did all of this capital thunder towards? A huge volume of it poured into fundamentally unproductive (even counter-productive) suburban sprawl. Way to go.
As Kunstler said, “our suburbs… represent the greatest misallocation of resources in the history of the world.”
Or, as Ken Layne puts it, “Stucco housing tracts, evil investment banks, ugly big-box retail strips, dumb show-off high-rises, land-raping golf resorts, Hummers — the nation’s financial collapse has taken down so many awful trophies of American Culture, we should probably send it a Thank You note, maybe with a Linens ‘n Things gift card.”