Foreigners Fret Over US Turn To Managed Markets

For years we laughed at their funny foreign ways. Mayonaise on french fries, socialism, goofball accents. But now it seems the foreigners might have something to teach us about how to run a market based economy and the dangers of nationalizing the financial system.

Up in Cambridge, Harvard is throwing a big party Global Business Summit. All the grand poobahs of the affluent society are there, and most are voicing support for the government’s big move into managed financial markets. Jeff Immelt, who runs General Electric, called free market puritanism “purely garbage.” As far as we can tell, not one of the great titans of the late, great American capitalism attempted to defend market processes against state intervention.

Instead, those warning against the growth of government’s role in our economy were all from far off lands.

From the Boston Globe:

Some dissenting voices warned that government ownership of banks historically dampened economic growth in other countries. “It’s frightening for us to hear about the US nationalizing banks,” said Anand G. Mahindra, managing director of Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd., an Indian-based federation of almost 100 companies. “That’s what Indira Gandhi did in 1966.”

Daniel Vasella, chief executive of the Swiss drug giant Novartis AG, which has a major research operation in Cambridge, fretted that the financial rescue package could put the US government deeper in debt, which could hurt the country’s economic recovery. He warned that the government outlays are “not sustainable” in the long run.

“The question one should legitimately ask is: How do you want your citizens to be prudent in taking on debt and managing their budgets if you don’t do it as a government?” Vasella said in an interview yesterday. “If you look at credit card debt, we still have many people who owe more than they have, and that is not sound.”

How long before India starts sending us delegations of economic advisers to teach us about capitalism?

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