What began as an American sub-prime mortgage problem has mutated into a terrifying financial meltdown, requiring massive government bailouts. Our symposium looks at the crisis from a number of angles. Former City big-beast and microfinance entrepreneur Mark Hannam examines the sub-prime problem that started it all, explaining where we went wrong in lending to the poor and how we can (and must) do better in the future. Financial investor Clive Cowdery argues that we will never curb the speculators, so must make them pay their way by levying the Tobin tax—a small ad valorem charge on all financial transactions. Former Lehman Brothers economist, John Llewellyn, points out that, worryingly, economic forecasts tend to go off-beam when the economy experiences a novel shock as it has done now. Then we have a Keynesian perspective from Keynes’s biographer Robert Skidelsky, explaining why the old master is back in fashion, and a piece from the Wall Street Journal’s Simon Nixon explaining why we shouldn’t write off the City of London just yet. Lastly, we have a heart-rending tale from Alex Renton about how his assets got frozen in Iceland.
Also, exclusively online this week, Josh Kurlantzick argues that the crisis is doing serious damage to America’s economic leadership of the world—and China is already taking advantage. And Daniel Litvin asks: where is the voice of Corporate Social Responsibility? The much-touted movement has so far had nothing to say about the greatest crisis of capitalism in a generation.