Half a century ago, the economic historian Karl Polanyi argued in the classic book The Great Transformation that self-regulating markets never work and that government intervention always becomes necessary to prevent catastrophe. Buried toward the end of the book is a short but succinct sentence that describes much of what we are seeing on Wall Street today: “The financial market governs by panic.”1 The first half of 2008 saw plenty of panic as investors and regulators scrambled to deal ...

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