On the radio show Marketplace, 27/January/2011, Jeremy Hobson interviewed Simon Johnson, former chief economist of the IMF, who was attending Klaus Schwab’s annual “World Economic Forum” in Davos, Switzerland.
Hobson asked about calls at Davos for less regulation on financial firms. “Is it just a parallel universe over there?” According to Johnson
Yes, I mean I knew it was a parallel universe, and I wanted to observe it, but I’m just shocked by the temerity of these bankers. Not only are the showing no remorse, they’re saying, “Oh, all that regulation you’ve infused or tried slightly to push on us is irrelevant or bad or dangerous and damaging and you should let us have our bucks now.” And the rest of the Davos elite seems to be buying into this. It’s quite extraordinary. And rather disturbing.
What would happen if he had the temerity to speak plainly and vividly about all this, instead of muffling his voice with layers of tact? Would he be banned from such events in the future? Would he be found hanging from Blackfriars Bridge?
Is he simply another unfortunate victim of Anglo-Saxon mealy-mouth syndrome, or does he have real reasons for fear? (And, of course, to be fair, this was an interview, not a prepared statement, or an essay. It’s easy to carp from the sidelines.)
“Shocked”? For criminals and psychopaths, temerity is good. Temerity works. According to Charles Manson, “I don’t break the law, I make the law.”
Maybe a little shot of temerity would help the good guys, too.