The Spectacle Blog

A Guide for the Perplexed

By on 1.28.09 | 11:00AM

Stimulus is upon us. In the name of partisan self-interest, both parties will preach that they have identified THE ONE macro-theory of economics that is entirely at-fault for this and they will also blame a few people who “really” triggered the depression. Conveniently, all the “destructive” macro-theories and figures will be from the other ideological camp. But first draft narratives addressing this, the initial phase of the collapse of High Finance and the U.S.’s 30-year experiment in Rentier Capitalism, are available and will help you avoid being a sucker when the Dems and GOPers preen and posture.

For some Finance 101, Dave Smith helps with clear explanations of securitization, credit derivatives in general and credit default swaps in particular, and even those infamous Wall Street employee compensation schemes.

Present-tense histories of the crisis are offered by Niall Ferguson in Vanity Fair, Michael Lewis in Portfolio, John Cassidy in The New Yorker, and Joe Nocera in the New York Times Magazine.

And two in-process papers that offer detailed explanations of how the government responded to the worst parts of the late-2008 section of the initial collapse: Eric Posner and Adrian Vermueule’s “Crisis Governance in the Administrative State: 9/11 and the Financial Meltdown of 2008” and Steven Davidoff and David Zaring’s “Big Deal: The Government's Response to the Financial Crisis.”

But I am being a bit deceptive with you. I do think there are people who deserve scorn and blame and punishment for this depression. Yet the reasons for their culpability are diverse and complex. And so, in that spirit of nuance, I vote for scuttling the Bruce show at halftime this weekend and substituting a few crucifixions to entertain the masses. We should randomly pick a few people on this list who shall suffer and bleed for our collective finanical sins. I mean what better venue for this type of social scapegoating than a national celebration of excessive consumption and ritualized violence? It only makes sense that we can stage a cathartic act of ritual violence for those who maintained and nourished another kind of symbolic order that manifested excessive consumption. And I’m sure Nouriel Roubini, Warren Buffett, and Stephen Eismann would volunteer to bring hammers and drive some nails. The added bonus: our blood offering will reveal whether Jesus will forsake Kurt Warner for a few downs in order to break their legs to put them out of their misery. Go Steelers.

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