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Decade of the Living Dead
Posted on Mar 15, 2012
By Nomi Prins
Prins: Do you see us getting to a point where the zombie status is turned around?
Onaran: If the politicians wanted to kill the zombies, they could. The U.S. and many other countries have passed laws that allow them to wind down troubled banks. Even before the last crisis though, they could have done it. Politicians typically choose to muddle through though, which means letting the zombies live. If Obama finally decided to replace Geithner with a Treasury secretary more independent of the big banks, he could use Dodd-Frank reform’s resolution powers to take over and shut down the worst zombies. As presidential elections get closer and the economy refuses to improve, Obama might be tempted to go that route. Alternatively, if he loses the elections and the incoming Republican president decides to get tough on the banks, it could be done. I’m not very hopeful on either possibility though. Unfortunately, we’ll probably keep muddling through.
Prins: The OWS movement has demonstrated understandable, palpable anger toward the big banks—how can reading your book help them?
Zombie Banks: How Broken Banks and Debtor Nations Are Crippling the Global Economy
By Yalman Onaran
Bloomberg Press, 184 pages
Onaran: OWS is reflecting the widespread anger throughout society toward the big banks because as unemployment lingers around 9 percent, the economy is stuck in an almost no growth zone, and bankers are back to paying themselves big bonuses and taking big risks while taking comfort from the government’s implicit guarantee to save them if their bets go sour, like in 2008. My book will give the OWS supporters a much better understanding of all the forces in finance and politics that play into this dirty game, help connect the dots between what’s happening here and in Europe. It will also help the OWS movement formulate concrete demands from our politicians so we can fix this mess. I lay out various steps the government can take to end the zombieness of the system, so the economy can move on.
If our leaders don’t adopt any of Onaran’s suggestions, the resulting blowup will be more horrific the next time around. Patching financial injuries by printing money doesn’t make the bleeding wounds go away. Onaran tells us we have to fix the problems or suffer the devastating consequences of zombie banks eating our economic flesh for years to come.
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