This time is Fareed Zakaria who is changing his doom and destruction fantasies for a new (and much more optmistic) “Capitalist Manifesto”. Interesting parts: (I added bold to a great jab at Golden Boy)
“Consider our track record over the past 20 years, starting with the stock-market crash of 1987, when on Oct. 19 the Dow Jones lost 23 percent, the largest one-day loss in its history. The legendary economist John Kenneth Galbraith wrote that he just hoped that the coming recession wouldn’t prove as painful as the Great Depression. It turned out to be a blip on the way to an even bigger, longer boom. Then there was the 1997 East Asian crisis, during the depths of which Paul Krugman wrote in a Fortune cover essay, “Never in the course of economic events—not even in the early years of the Depression—has so large a part of the world economy experienced so devastating a fall from grace.” He went on to argue that if Asian countries did not adopt his radical strategy—currency controls—”we could be looking at the kind of slump that 60 years ago devastated societies, destabilized governments, and eventually led to war.” Only one Asian country instituted currency controls, and partial ones at that. All rebounded within two years.
A few years from now, strange as it may sound, we might all find that we are hungry for more capitalism, not less. An economic crisis slows growth, and when countries need growth, they turn to markets. After the Mexican and East Asian currency crises—which were far more painful in those countries than the current downturn has been in America—we saw the pace of market-oriented reform speed up. If, in the years ahead, the American consumer remains reluctant to spend, if federal and state governments groan under their debt loads, if government-owned companies remain expensive burdens, then private-sector activity will become the only path to create jobs. The simple truth is that with all its flaws, capitalism remains the most productive economic engine we have yet invented. Like Churchill’s line about democracy, it is the worst of all economic systems, except for the others. Its chief vindication today has come halfway across the world, in countries like China and India, which have been able to grow and pull hundreds of millions of people out of poverty by supporting markets and free trade. Last month India held elections during the worst of this crisis. Its powerful left-wing parties campaigned against liberalization and got their worst drubbing at the polls in 40 years.
Add to this the information and Internet revolutions, and you have a series of historical changes that have produced a single global system, far more integrated and faster-moving than ever before. The results speak for themselves. Over the past quarter century, the global economy has doubled every 10 years, going from $31 trillion in 1999 to $62 trillion in 2008. Recessions have become tamer than ever before, averaging eight months rather than two years. More than 400 million people across Asia have been lifted out of poverty. Between 2003 and 2007, average income worldwide grew at a faster rate (3.1 percent) than in any previous period in recorded human history. In 2006 and 2007—the peak years of the boom—124 countries around the world grew at 4 percent a year or more, about four times as many as 25 years earlier.
Many of these countries had more cash than they knew what to do with. China sits on a war chest of more than $2 trillion, while eight other emerging-market nations have reserves of more than $100 billion. They’ve all looked to the safest investment they could imagine—U.S. government debt. In buying so much debt, they drove down the interest rate Washington had to offer, which in turn made credit in America cheap. So the effect of all this money sloshing around the world was to subsidize Americans in their favorite activity: shopping. But it affected other Western countries as well, from Spain to Ireland, where consumers and governments loaded themselves up with debt.
Good times always make people complacent. As the cost of capital sank over the past few years, people became increasingly foolish. The world economy had become the equivalent of a race car—faster and more complex than any vehicle anyone had ever seen. But it turned out that no one had driven a car like this before, and no one really knew how. So it crashed.”
After that he goes back to the “we don’t need more regulation, we need smarter regulation” chorus line, which is fine. Most of all, it is good to see people snapping out of the “we need a new system” kind of crap.
The important thing is to always remember that the last 30 years have been without any doubt the best/fastest evolution human beings ever experienced. Whatever we do to try and control our excesses, we should never try to do what we did before Reagan.
That would be a true disaster.