Arnold Kling

DeLong on laughing gas?

Arnold Kling, Great Questions of Economics
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Leaning way too hard on Keynes' "dentist" metaphor, Brad DeLong has the chutzpah to argue that even after Enron and the dotcom collapse, America's financial markets are the model to which East Asia should aspire.

the fact that we in the U.S. share the same problems does not mean that East Asia does not need to have financial regulators that can do a better job of monitoring and controlling the systemic risks its financial institutions' transactions create. It does not mean that East Asia does not need to rely more on public information dissemination and arms-length market transactions and less on long-term "relationships" in determining what and how operating companies get to use other people's money. The most powerful argument, I think, for attempting to move...toward an Anglo-American financial system is simply that the U.S. is the center of the world economy, that the ability to draw on New York-based finance is a very valuable social asset, and that will be hard to do if information is not presented and corporations are not governed and supervised in a way familiar to New York.

DeLong's entire discussion is worth reading, and probably he is right. But I would rather wait until the United States pulls out of its current macroeconomic malaise before I pronounce our financial institutions robust.

Discussion Question. In 1990, there was fear that the United States could not compete with Japan. Now, the roles are reversed. What are the chances of yet another reversal?

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