Mark Thoma won't allocate blame for the economic crisis:

I can only narrow the villains down and place them into broad categories, I can't point fingers at any one of them and say you did it, you were the cause of this.

The managers at places like AIG were part of the problem, and they surely don't deserve rewards for their performance, that is not the argument here, but they and others like them were only one part of the problems we now have, they didn't cause the problems by themselves. It was a combination of things working together that produced this crisis, that is, excess liquidity, very poorly structured incentives, and incorrect assessment of the risks all came together to produce the problems we are seeing. I wish I could point to a single villain, it would be easier in a many, many ways to be able to do that, but I don't think we can, and doing so runs the risk of delaying the reform that is needed by causing us to focus on only a small set of the larger set of "villains". There's plenty of blame - and reform - to spread around.

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