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Where does the NYSE end? Where does the State begin?

Translated Monday 3 November 2008, by Jeff Skinner

The economic crisis team is composed almost exclusively of former executives from Goldman Sachs, one of the heavyweights of the financial market.

Special correspondent.

The versatility of the elite, driven to alternately occupy key posts within a leading finance group and the administration, is certainly not peculiar to the United States. But there’s no doubt in this country that the osmosis between the two is most intensive.

There is confirmation of this absence of separation between Wall Street and the State in this period of acute crisis, when the matter begins to create controversies.

Thus, former journalist and Pulitzer Prize winner Chris Hedges denounces a system that makes leaders “totally incapable of thinking about what is really the common good”. And they start thinking about, in the words of Canadian philosopher John Ralston Saul, the escalation of a “contradiction between capitalism and democracy”.

It must be said that Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson has gone particularly far. A former director of Goldman Sachs himself, he has formed a shock team to try to carry through the famous 700 billion-dollar (550 billion-euro) banking bailout plan that bears his name.

A distinguishing mark: all the key posts are occupied by people who made their careers in the leading commercial bank. Neel Kashkari has thus become the chief organizer of the crisis cabinet and the main authorizer of expenditures since the recapitalization of the various establishments that drive the federal government. Robert Steel has been charged with leading the rescue plan for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the mortgage credit refinancing agencies “nationalized” last August. Edward Liddy has been charged with taking the insurance company AIG, also “nationalized” as an emergency measure, in hand. Stephen Friedman has become president of the New York Federal Reserve… and the icing on this already extremely generous cake: Joshua Bolton, also a former member of the leading bank’s executive, has himself become the cabinet chief for… President Bush.

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