A debt to history

The biggest problems with the coverage of Wall Street and its intersecting international thoroughfares have been structural rather than seasonal. The media, and perhaps business media in particular, are congenitally incapable of the simplest observations about the contradiction between allegedly “free” markets and, eg, the expectation/demand that State forces step in – with extra cheap money – when there seems to be some sort of credit crunch.

Combine the essentially ideological allergy to critical analysis of the relationship between corporate and State power with the typical hack's incapacity to think historically and some of the most basic facts will go unreported, at least in most media. The fact that this potential global credit crisis was made possible by changes in recent years in the regulation of finance, leading inexorably to the proliferation of a maddening global complexity of debt-for-sale products, has been little remarked-upon. Not even here, though legal changes here are a particularly salient aspect of Ireland's high exposure to the recent troubles associated with the baffling market in debt.

 Instead we hear vaguely about the “internationalisation of money” as though this were a simple force of nature rather than the result of political decisions about what to regulate and how.

The media morality tale (half-true, as usual) has been about a few big bold subprime lenders in America, nasty gougers outside the normal banking sector, who went and ruined it for the rest of us by providing mortgages to (ie screwing with further debt) dangerously poor people. The commercial banks who eagerly grabbed and sold on a piece of those debts, making themselves ever-more-rich and helping to ensure the debts are ensconced everywhere in the world, have hardly been criticised. And of course they'll continue to do fine if and when the bubbles burst and governments prioritise their continuing profits over our homes, jobs and pensions.