Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Jeff Madrick visited the FDR Library in Hyde Park, New York last weekend to promote his new book, Age of Greed: The Triumph of Finance and the Decline of America, 1970 to Present. Jeff's rousing author's talk drew record attendance, but if you missed out, just click the link below to hear the full audio from the event.
In a wide-ranging Q&A, Jeff traces the evolution of greed from the rise of financial parasites in the '70s to the crash of 2008 and current reform efforts. Sadly, he thinks some Americans now consider greed patriotic, and that "in some circles people believe it's what drives the economy." He argues that there is an important distinction between self-interest, which creates public goods in a well-regulated free market, and greed, which undermines the free market because it "encourages people to break the rules" and "creates an un-level playing field."
So is there any hope for recovery? Only with strong leadership. As Jeff says, people "think America will muddle through because they think America muddled through in the past, but history is a battle." FDR made mistakes, but "basically he was a battler, he was in constant battle for the New Deal programs. ... We don't have FDR today. We don't have a fighter. ... We need that spirit and that sense that government can do things. That's what's robbing our children, not the debt today."
Click here for details on upcoming events at the FDR Library. For more on Age of Greed, check out Jeff's two-part interview with ND2.0 Editor Lynn Parramore:
And for even more Madrick, be sure to read his new New York Review of Books column in defense of Fannie and Freddie, co-authored with Frank Partnoy.