Monday, January 04, 2010

Singapore Slam



I think I’ll pay more attention to Singapore in the future. But for right now, I want you to pay attention to this:

”But you're right in suggesting, by the way, that this crisis has changed Asian and Chinese attitudes towards America and the West. Because until now, the general feeling was that, when it came to economic management, when it came to financial management, the West knew best what to do. This is how you manage the world's financial situation.

This crash, you have no idea of the impact it's had psychologically. It's like the scales falling from the eyes, and people saying, "How come? These guys were telling us how to run the world in the financial sector. And look how they screwed up."

And believe me, I mean, this is something that's so hard to put across to a Western audience, how attitudes have changed.

And the counterpart to that, incidentally, is that there is rising confidence in Asia, that we know now how to manage things better. We know how to get the right balance between the invisible hand of free markets and the visible hand of good governance. And you need both.

And all those who were saying, deregulate, privatize, open up -- gee, they were wrong. “


That’s a quote from Kishore Mahbubani. Mr. Mahbubani “is dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore.” Where in the world would I be listening to a guy with a name like Kishore Mahbubani ? On Fareed Zakaria’s Global Public Square of course. I don’t consider his comments a slam on America (although I’m sure some will.) It was definitely a swipe at U.S. bankers and the previous Administration, though. And I, personally, think it was well deserved.

Don’t forget, America caused this financial crash. We did it by failing to regulate our financial system because some of our leaders convinced us that government -- and therefore government regulation -- was bad. We were wrong. The rest of the world knows it and we’d best not forget it. The rest of the world won’t.

”We know how to get the right balance between the invisible hand of free markets and the visible hand of good governance. And you need both. “

I like that.

To read the transcript of the show, click here. Or you can watch the podcast. Warning about the podcast. It includes some gun-camera film and radio chatter from a helicopter gunship in Afghanistan -- during an excellent interview with Tom Ricks. I don’t know a thing about fighting wars. I do know about talking to people on the radio when lives hang in the balance by very slender threads. It can be hard to listen to. It can bring back bad memories. Those that have been there know what I’m talking about.

In addition, this particular show on GPS is like hitting the trifecta for me. The show begins with a panel that includes the great Robert Caro. It just doesn’t get any better as far as I’m concerned. This is great television. I hope you’ll watch the whole show.

(The interview with Mr. Mahbubani starts at the 26 minute mark.)

Don Brown
January 4, 2010

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