We're all struggling day by day to make sense of the mayhem in the markets - neoconservative governments discovering the virtues of nationalization, speculators' bubbles finally bursting, doom-mongers who have been predicting the collapse of capitalism for decades suddenly worrying about their own pensions and mortgages when it arrives…
As I said last week, when a crash like this happens, it's worth listening first not to the people who have presided over and profited from the speculative boom but to those who have long been pointing to the cracks in the edifice.
Walden Bello has for more than a decade been one of the most reliable commentators on and campaigners against the uncontrolled forces of globalized free trade. You can reach his 'Wall Street Meltdown Primer' here. And for Walden's most recent contribution to the NI, go to 'Sand in the Wheels'.
Another increasingly outspoken critic of free-market fundamentalism - despite (or probably because of) his former role as Chief Economist at the World Bank - is Joseph Stiglitz. In Britain's Guardian newspaper he welcomes the US Congress's rejection of the $700-billion bail-out plan, saying it is 'A sad day for Wall Street, but it may be a glorious day for democracy.' He calls for a new plan 'that assures US taxpayers the costs will be borne by those who created the problem' (click here for the full article). I interviewed Stiglitz for the NI in 2004, when he was equally trenchant about the blinkered ideologues in charge at the IMF - The hospital that makes you sicker.