The silence is deafening

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My Monday column for the Financial Times complains about the presidential candidates' lack of attention to the worsening financial crisis.

What makes this even odder is that the Democrats, at least, continue to hammer away at economic anxiety. The squeeze on “middle-class families” gives them an edge against the Republicans in November, they calculate. But they were saying this last year, and the year before – when unemployment was not rising, the economy looked pretty healthy and most Americans still did not know the difference between an SIV and a CDO. The themes are trade and jobs, shuttered factories, stagnant incomes, unlevel playing fields and labour and environmental standards. As for the complete breakdown of the credit system and the danger of a years-long Japanese-style slump – oh, yes, there’s that as well.


It is as though after 9/11 the candidates headlined their speeches with demands – urgent demands! – for tighter security around embassies. To be fair, at the end of last week Mrs Clinton (“Solutions Not Speeches”) did move to position herself as the most forceful figure in the crisis. She announced that after the Bear Stearns intervention she had called Henry Paulson, the Treasury secretary, to interrupt his afternoon nap and advise him of the urgency of the situation. This was a significant tactical victory, because it showed she had Mr Paulson’s number, whereas Mr Obama’s people had merely called some people and it was unclear whether her rival thought the issue was “urgent” or just “serious”. (Later he clarified and said it was both.)

Personally, I would like to see phone logs and transcripts from both campaigns, so we can know exactly who called whom, and exactly how much urgency was communicated. Without that kind of transparency, it is all just politics as usual.

You can read the whole column here.

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