David Frum detects a hint of contrition from the movers-and-shakers at Davos. About time too:
“What all the wise men promised has not happened, and what all the damned fools said would happen has come to pass.” So snarked Queen Victoria’s first prime minister, Lord Melbourne. He might have been talking about the euro. Or the securitization of the U.S. mortgage market. Or the British government’s attempt to restore prosperity through budget austerity. Or. Or. Or. Over the past decade and a half, we’ve seen one horrendous economic decision after another made, not by voters in democracies, but by people who owed their power to their claims of superior knowledge. Together, they have plunged us into a decade and a half of disasters, culminating in a global financial crisis triggered by new credit instruments that were advertised as ending financial crises once and for all.
Yet by and large, these leaders have escaped public accountability or even criticism over the past six years of global crisis. The people who designed the euro continue to run the European Central Bank. The people who wrecked the American banking system walked away with multimillion-dollar severance packages. We all know that life’s not fair. But this unfair? So it’s welcome news that the Davos attenders are suddenly feeling “vulnerable.” They ought to.