Age of Greed

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Jeff Madrick tells how the single-minded pursuit of huge personal wealth led to America’s economic ills over the last 40 years. Age of Greed: The Triumph of Finance and the Decline of America, 1970 to the Present tells the stories of these politicians, economists, and financiers who declared a moral battle for freedom but instead gave rise to an age of greed, and he traces lineage of some of our nation’s most pressing economic problems to the rise of greed since the 1970s.


Jeff Madrick

Comments [24]


I thought this interview was one of Leonard's weakest. He was unprepared and didnt challenge Mr. Madrick whatsoever. This guy explained alright -- basically to someone who needed far more explaining. It was all one-sided blame Bush, blame conservatives (much as all the commentary here). All just red meat for the GOP-bashers. I guess a book needs to be written about the litany of damaging policies of the left and democrats over the years - War on Poverty, pro-union stances, high taxes, etc, as well as several volumes of why Obama's spending will ultimately fail -- not because he's wrong necessarily, but because he's more interested in being re-elected than actually putting forward a plan. His is the Sugar Ray Leonard style of dance around the ring and not throw punches. And we can argue all the jobs saved or created, economy saved, etc (Mark Zandi) until the cows come home but there's really one thing that cannot be argued -- we'll never really know. People like Madrick need to be challenged, not coddled and nodded to in agreement like drooling idiots.

Jun. 01 2011 03:48 PM
ellen from nyc

Lenny, your first 2 guests have related subject matter. Regarding the test given to football players to analyze their future performance. Let’s apply this to our corporate CEOs and government leaders, Maybe we could predict from their conversation and choice of words, if they will proceed to be predators on society to reap billions off the backs of the rest of the population, or do they have any sense of affiliation, cooperation, or responsibility to the society and rest of us. Give this test to our candidates for president, congress and the court! Then use the results to weed out the irresponsible and greedy, as Jeff Madrick was talking about. Touchdowns are nice, but saving our economy is also even nicer.

Jun. 01 2011 01:07 PM
John A.

My advice to george from astoria is to move up from the Entertainment Tonight block of TV over to the PBS Newshour. 'Wisdom isn't sexy' is a popular thought process that can bring failures.

Jun. 01 2011 12:53 PM
Mark Brown from

As I have said since 2006 (if only someone would LISTEN), we ARE in the depression 2.0.

Remember this:

When it started, it was called "The war to end all wars", or "THE GREAT WAR".

IT took almost 20-30 years before it was RENAMED
world war one.

I say we are EXACTLY in the same process.
We are in Depression 2.0.
However, we will NOT call it that for another 10-15 years, until we are OUT of it.

I agree We need MASSIVE government spending (not balancing the budget, or CUTTING it) to get us out of this crisis.
Go see my blog

Jun. 01 2011 12:51 PM
Stephen from Manhattan

Why has Mr. Madrick not been appointed head of the Federal Reserve? Or top financial advisor in the Obama administration? His long term view of what's gotten us where we are today is dead on and yet the Republicans have Joe & Jane Six-pack believing Ronald Reagan was an economic savior and that THEY are the ones who benefit from Bush's tax breaks. HA!

Jun. 01 2011 12:49 PM

Jeff Madrick is partly right about Obama. Obama avoids confrontation.

But he is also a great deal more conservative than many admit.

Jun. 01 2011 12:39 PM
Richard Johnston from Manhattan upper west side

"...enormity of the job" should be "enormousness of the job."

Jun. 01 2011 12:38 PM
Jonathan Andrews

What to do?

Jun. 01 2011 12:38 PM
Phil Henshaw from way uptown

Jeff, What do you think the effect is of the traditional regulatory policy to maintain stable markets where people can get assured returns and add their returns to their savings?

Is the effect of that policy any different when business is finding new resources greater in supply than ever used before when the reverse is happening? Today the commodity markets for food and fuel resources seem to be responding as if fearful of running out, and unable to meet growing demand don't they?

Jun. 01 2011 12:37 PM

Jeff Madrick is a better person than I am. I will level an ad hominem at Friedman. He was a self-serving opportunist -- a very very smart one (like Kissinger, Rice and many others of that ilk). Let's remember that Friedman was an acolyte of the vile Ayn Rand, another self-serving egomaniac who masked egomania in pseudo-intellectualism.

Jun. 01 2011 12:34 PM
george from astoria

Thank You for this information.!

Why is this not common knowledge?
Why do so many the lies dominate the media instead of these facts about the problems we are having in this country?

This is just as dramatic and interesting as Lindsay Lohans exposed breast..!!

Jun. 01 2011 12:33 PM
dboy from nyc

Thank you for this episode!!

Very important and cogent observations!

Jun. 01 2011 12:32 PM

We've had 40 years of "financial engineering."

That's why we've been losing more & more on the engineering /science/technology fronts.

See Krugman, Stieglitz, etc.

Jun. 01 2011 12:31 PM
DarkSymbolist from NYC!

So happy to hear someone site Greenspan and his idiotic Ayn Rand outlook as the great villain in this...

Jun. 01 2011 12:31 PM
Fuva from Harlemworld

Right on, Sophia. And any "fiscal conservative" who feels compelled to consort with a party that, in recent history, courted and pandered to unreconstructed/ unrepentent Confederates as its base has too limited a view of his/her political options, and of the political possibilities. There are alternatives. There must be.

Jun. 01 2011 12:29 PM

Robert Reich wrote something very much along the lines discussed here just a few days ago. He divides the period since World War 2 into a 30-year period from 1947 to 1977 when middle class and many poorer Americans saw gains. Then from 1977 to 2007, the rich soared while everybody else saw stagnation. Now the financial catastrophe has had the extraordinary consequence of reinforcing and accelerating the process of the past 30 years.

Jun. 01 2011 12:28 PM

The genuine conservatives (who are still wrong but are at least consistent) opposed TARP and stimulus. Had they gotten what they wanted we'd be horribly deep in a terrible Depression (worse than the 30s). This is not to say TARP was good or that the stimulus was adequate.

Obama is largely within the Milton Friedman greed-economics camp. His advisers are almost ALL Friedmanites -- Geithner, Summers, Rubin, etc. They may be liberal Friedmanites but they are still greedy opponents of regulation, supporting the rich at the expense of everybody else.

There is a growing body of moderate and liberal economists and scholars joining the long history of progressive economists in this analysis: Paul Krugman, Joseph Stiglitz, Larry Bartels join James K. Galbraith, Dean Baker, John Roemer, among others.

Jun. 01 2011 12:22 PM
Henry Ehrlich from Brooklyn

It's nice to hear Walter Wriston getting his due for starting all this. As a speechwriter for Citibank during the 80s, it was my job to promote Wriston's agenda, and friends who knew me back then still give me grief for "starting all this." I do wonder what Walter, who was a smart and educated guy (who was nice to me, fun to talk to) and did yeoman work to save New York City during the 1970s, would make of the lunatics who have taken over the asylum of his Republican Party.

Jun. 01 2011 12:20 PM

The conservatives who claim they oppose all regulation do a drastic about-face when the proposed regulation serves right-wing interests. Conservatives welcome law clamping down on whistleblowers. They welcome law protecting big pharmaceuticals from competition that would lower drug prices.

The unifying ethos of conservatives is not small-government but greed.

A vanishingly small number of conservatives might have supported the ideals right-wingers claim to endorse -- Milton Friedman (maybe, but probably not), Jagdish Bhagwati (probably), Hayek, etc.

The prominent right-wingers of this time are unashamed money-grubbers.

Jun. 01 2011 12:17 PM

Thanks Leonard for having Prof. Madrick on.

His writings are great & right on point for today's economic abyss.

Jun. 01 2011 12:17 PM

What happened to the Republican Party is that it became the party of the white south.

The South was fine with big govt, so long as it discriminated against black people.

In fact it's still fine with collecting the largesse of blue state taxpayers while continuing to bitch and moan.

Jun. 01 2011 12:13 PM
ellen from nyc

Greed can be brought out or tamped down by the culture of a society. Here our laws seem to encourage it. Please compare the European safety net that regulates protection of citizens from corporate greed. Example—in Scandanavia, I read that if a company goes bankrupt, the private pensions of employees is still guaranteed and the CEOs golden parachute isn’t paid for by the workers. Could you discuss any other specifics that protect people in other countries, while here people’s financial security is endangered?

Jun. 01 2011 11:58 AM
Fuva from Harlemworld

These days, economic debate focusing on government debt, and not at all addressing income disparity and it's role in creating the "Great Recession", is debate in a vacuum and a distractionary ruse by the political and economic elite. The majority of the citizenry has taken the bait.

Jun. 01 2011 11:33 AM
Patrick from Bronx

Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman have spoken of the increasing disparity between rich and poor in this country. As you see it, is there any chance that the widening gap will be reversed?

Jun. 01 2011 06:36 AM

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