BTS 3/31/08: Economic Crisis; The Kravchenko Case

Listen: Play - Download

The economy continues its meltdown, the Fed is intervening to prevent a 1929 outcome, yet the new regulatory reform proposed doesn't deal with the derivatives, and no one knows if the crisis can be contained. We look at the depth of the crisis, the fix, and who pays.

We begin with Thomas Ferguson and Robert Johnson, who asked on a recent Huffington Post article: what do Wall Street and Britney Spears have in common? Apart from both being overpaid, they say, both have been stumbling from crisis to crisis. The issue isn't that the Fed is bailing out the banks -- but who is paying. In other words, where is the public interest. We’ll also talk to them about the Paulson’s reform and what it misses.

Delving even deeper, Hillel Ticktin argues this is a turning point in world history because the basis for equilibrium of the world system has been dealt a major blow: neither the Fed nor other Central Banks can come up with the $416 trillion or so needed to control the crisis. We’ll ask Hillel to explain why this crisis is different and can’t easily be resolved.

And finally, on tonight’s Beneath The Surface we turn to Gary Kern who has produced a monumental and definitive study The Kravchenko Case: One Man’s War on Stalin. It is a Cold War study with implications for today. Kravchenko believed profoundly in the struggle for freedom and justice, warning against resorting to the methods and forms used in Stalin's USSR. In today's war on terror, Kern notes, the US does what Kravchenko warns against: it resorts to the methods of its old enemy, "creates its own gulags, kidnaps people off the streets in foreign countries and tortures suspects as if their guilt were already proven."

Read More for info on tonight's guests:

1. Thomas Ferguson is professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. He is the author or coauthor of many books and articles, including "Golden Rule: The Investment Theory of Party Competition and the Logic of Money-Driven Political Systems" (University of Chicago Press). In 2007-8 He was an executive producer of Taxi to the Dark Side, the Oscar Winning Documentary produced and Directed by Alex Gibney.

2. Robert Johnson was previously a managing director at Soros Fund Management, where he managed a global currency, bond and equity portfolio specializing in emerging markets. He served as chief economist of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee under the leadership of Chairman William Proxmire and before that as senior economist of the U.S. Senate Budget Committee under the leadership of Chairman Pete Domenici.

3. Hillel Ticktin, Editor of Critique, author of hundreds of articles on the political economy of Russia and the former Soviet Union, the history of socialism, the nature of finance capital, Marx, Trotsky and more. He is Professor Emeritus of the Centre for the Study of Socialist Theory and Movements and the Institute of Russian and East European Studies at the University of Glasgow.

4. Gary Kern has published widely on Russian literature and history. He is the translator of seven books from Russian, Including This I Cannot Forget: The Memoirs of Nikolai Bukharin’s Widow, by Anna Larina.