‘I regard the moral environment as pathological’

Jeffrey Sachs is a well-regarded American economist, who is director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University.  Last week he took part in a conference sponsored by the Drexel University at the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia on how to fix the banking system.  This is part of what he had to say.


Jeffrey Sachs

I regard the moral environment as pathological.  And I’m talking about the human interactions that I have.  I’ve not seen anything like this, not felt it so palpably.  These people are out to make billions of dollars and nothing should stop them from that.  They have no responsibility to pay taxes.  They have no responsibility to their clients.  They have no responsibility to people, counterparties in transactions.  They are tough, greedy, aggressive, and feel absolutely out of control, you know, in a quite literal sense.  And they have gamed the system to a remarkable extent, and they have a docile president, a docile White House, and a docile regulatory system that absolutely can’t find its voice.  It’s terrified of these companies.

If you look at the campaign contributions … … the financial markets are the number one campaign contributors in the U.S. system now.  We have a corrupt politics to the core, I’m afraid to say, and no party is—I mean there’s—if not both parties are up to their necks in this.  This has nothing to do with Democrats or Republicans.  It really doesn’t have anything to do with right wing or left wing, by the way.  The corruption is, as far as I can see, everywhere.  But what it’s led to is this sense of impunity that is really stunning, and you feel it on the individual level right now, and it’s very, very unhealthy.

I have waited for four years, five years now, to see one figure on Wall Street speak in a moral language, and I’ve not seen it once.  And that is shocking to me.  And if they won’t, I’ve waited for a judge,  for our president,  for somebody, and it hasn’t happened.  And by the way it’s not going to happen anytime soon it seems.

The significance is not so much the content of what he is saying, which has been obvious for some time, as that he as a member of the American economics establishment is saying it.


Click on the following links for background, details and analysis.

“I have waited for five years now to see one figure on Wall Street speak in a moral language… waited for a judge, for our president, for somebody, and it hasn’t happened.” on Corrente.

Jeffrey Sachs Calls Out Wall Street Criminality and Pathological Greed on naked capitalism.

Jeff Sachs: The Pathological Environment on Wall Street (and in Washington, London and Berlin) on Jesse’s Cafe Americain.


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