Following the financial crisis of 2008, the United States government decided to take legislative action in order to protect the American public and tighten the leash on the financial sector. From unregulated derivatives markets to excessively risky trading and speculative losses written off under the cover of a portfolio hedge, the tools and investment vehicles utilized by the finance industry generated enormous amounts of revenue, however as the crisis showed, even financial powerhouses are susceptible to failure. Bailing out the finance industry with billions of dollars provided a quick fix for keeping major firms afloat with the taxpayer money, but it was clear that real change was necessary. Continue reading
I believe that with hunger affecting such a significant portion of the global population, individual gardens and agriculture on a personal scale can help relieve food supply problems around the world. On any scale, reducing the consumption of mass produced food products will allow for resources to be more freely available to those in need, however I feel that even as a country, a national effort in the United States could provide global impact.
Social media has grown hand in hand with the current generation of camera phones becoming ubiquitous. A camera in every pocket, alongside the ease of sharing photos and videos in seconds globally, has facilitated a revolution in the way information is shared today. From Twitter to Facebook, media is shared to millions, with a plethora of additional information just a few clicks away. According to the technology quiz, I am a digital collaborator, which I believe accurately describes my approach to and use of technology. I believe in the connection of a larger community and the power of these groups to make a difference and serve a greater purpose. Whether providing live information during natural disasters, crowd-funding business projects, or sharing footage of events and locales around the world, I believe social media has redefined how a global community can interact, sharing and discussing information like never before.
Following the financial crisis of 2008, the financial industry suffered backlash from the public following a historic and infamous series of events that threatened America’s economy. From media pundits to organized efforts such as the “Occupy: Wall Street” movement, there has been a continual protest against the ‘injustice’ and corruption of greed that supposedly plagues large financial institutions. However, many Americans rely on financial services for retirement savings, investment opportunities, the ability to get a mortgage and more. Despite the complexity of many financial systems, which may be simply understood by the general public, the causes of the crisis held blame with those behind-the-scenes, and an ethical analysis can bring these actors and their decisions to light and provide a clear picture of what was done wrong and why. Looking into AIG, a major player in the financial crisis, a history of ethically questionable management can be seen, with blatantly unethical choices leading underlying collapse of the financial system in 2008.
I found a compelling TED talk by Mariana Mazzucato called “Government: Investor, Risk-taker, Innovator” which describes her argument regarding government’s investment and support in private sector research and innovation. She details the misconceptions about ‘revolutionary’ firms who innovate and the persistent idea that government should simply support basic institutional structures to maintain stability and promote growth and innovation in the private sector.
During the financial crisis of 2008, AIG was one of the most critical firms facing failure, and as the US Government stepped in to provide assistance in order to prevent the larger financial system from unraveling. The outcome of the situation involves an overhaul of regulations a la Dodd-Frank, as well as a number of government-influenced management decisions after giving AIG a multi-billion dollar bailout. My focus for paper 2 is to analyze the precedent AIG set for establishing a business of such magnitude on practices that could tear down the financial sector of the United States in a matter of weeks, and threaten the greater economy as a whole.
Overall, this week the blogs were much better and more thorough than previous weeks. Looking at the PPACA from so many perspectives was refreshing, as the majority of the class chose different topics to look into and discuss. As a whole the blog council would like to congratulate all members of the class for their good work. That being said, there were still a few blog posts that stood above the rest. To go along with the movie theme from last week we have given people roles in a movie based on their blog posts.
After navigating through the quiz, answering questions based on what I guessed the government would do, I got a 7 out of 10, despite not being able to explain any of the answers in depth. While the overall benefits of the plan shocked my preconceived notions of the act, the implementation of an insurance marketplace and plethora of benefits throughout the program changed my opinion and attracted me to the large changes in the healthcare system. However, one area of the PPACA regarding small business and employee coverage strikes me as flawed, with a slight inconsistency to the detriment of a select group of employers.
I enjoyed taking the political quiz to begin this exercise, however I felt that the polarity of the choices undermined the real potential of asking tough questions and may not offer the most complete political profile. Of course, the face value of a twenty-question quiz is not equal to rational, informed decision-making when choosing a political stance. Forming insightful, rational opinions is the theme of this week’s blog, and a crucial skill for forming an individual opinion. While it may seem trivial, many of us (myself included) often take headlines and statistics as fact, and base our reaction and response off of that information alone. Just as a political quiz may present “obvious” options for many questions, they may not truly be the best answers.
The idea of a firm being “too big to fail” is one that resonates clearly throughout the film and certainly applies to the present as well. The film delves into a perspective of the financial world where decisions had to be made in a timely matter, and as the institutions involved watched the financial system come apart at the hinges, there was a distinct compounding effect as a resolution was reached. With the government intervention and following behavior from the banks, it is evident how much influence these institutions hold in our economy. Relying on trust was shown to be a tricky and unpredictable aspect, while still necessary to provide a foundation for which the financial system is based.
While trust was not always present, a solution for the banks still came after stubborn refusals to cooperate. Knowingly watching Lehman fail as they did, with no lasting repercussion, followed by the capital infusions undermined the intended message of keeping private sector problems private. When government intervention is necessary on such a scale to stop a downward spiral, its hard not to justify the notion of “Too big to fail.”
The situation today hasn’t changed considerably, and the power held by such a small group of banks represents a plethora of factors involving most members of society. The last thing we want to experience is a market condition like the one in the film again, and the need to support private firms with public money may be an unavoidable reality of the world today, and the film ominously describes the impending problems that would result otherwise. The notion of “Too big to fail” is true whether or not we like it, as the film showed, since other solutions couldn’t provide resolution. We may have simply stuck with a mindset of “if it’s not broken, don’t try to fix it” but a similar situation today would certainly require measures similar to the film, and reinforce the notion of “too big to fail” in the present day.
Mike Daisey’s guest appearance on the podcast on This American Life, regarding his story about Apple and FoxConn working conditions, and the resulting follow-up “Retraction,” stands out to me as significant wake-up call to the trust placed in those preaching altruistic goals. Mike Daisey wanted to make a difference, and change peoples views about a situation halfway around the world, far removed from America, and the consumers, of the products being made there. By stretching the truth, adding in emotional scenes and providing a compelling narrative about his journey, Mike Daisey’s story seems awfully familiar to another recent scandal, surrounding Greg Mortenson and his novel, Three Cups of Tea. Both men, willing to lie about their experience and fabricate a story directed at first-world citizens, to generate an emotional response for the ‘need to uphold modern values in other countries.’ While Mortenson had his novel put under scrutiny by writer, and former supporter, John Krakauer, in Three Cups of Deceit, undermining his story and calling out claims, Mike Daisey actually came back to This American Life to talk out the issues and explain himself for his misrepresentations.
Daisey stands by his story, the work of theater, and never comes clean about the inconsistencies in his story, and the people he lied about meeting. It is troubling to know that he understood the full weight of his actions, and seemed to hope that the consequences would never catch up to him. While it may have been an error to run the show originally, the intent of having Daisey on This American Life was clear to all parties, and yet Daisey held no regard for the professionalism and truth expected of him. In my opinion this makes him a liar, and an unethical one.
While his show may help provide awareness, and the expectation surrounding a performance at a theater may not be that of journalistic integrity, answering a reporter and detailing parts of the story meant for emotional response in a performance as fact is the ethical equivalent of the people he criticizes. Raising awareness or promoting a cause is an honorable notion, however, lying and selling a story about things that he didn’t experience doesn’t qualify for opinion, or even leave room for interpretation. I almost felt bad for the guy, as he returned again and still tried to defend himself, but he either has convinced himself that the story is true, or has just decided to play Mike Daisey vs the world. He described many events and created many experiences to fit news stories about the subject, and regards his fictional recreation of them as valid experiences, and brings up the question that Mortenson’s debacle did, as to whether or not lying to promote awareness is unethical or simply misguided, and in this case, I believe Mr. Daisy hurt his own cause with his story. He did not experience anything as sensationalist as he claims, and with resources to explore the truth behind the issues in large factories, journalists already exploring any information they can, and companies themselves providing reports, Daisey’s story falls flat. Seeing Mike Daisey as anything more than an actor, or a character, seems to be futile, as he stands behind his actions and insists that from his view, everything’s good, and the rest of us are left to trust in credible sources, and filter out unreliable ones who are stuck in their views, taking everything we hear with a grain of salt, from amateur reporters like Mike Daisey, to large news outlets as well.