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Spitzer, Other Panelists Cite Causes of 2008 Financial Crisis

Blueprint for Accountability

From left, Jesse LaGreca, Heather McGhee, Matt Taibbi, Karen Finney, Eliot Spitzer, Van Jones and Ron Suskind discuss the Wall Street-Washington connection during the 2012 Lannan Sprint Symposium and Literary Festival's Blueprint for Accountability event.

March 28, 2012 – Former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer told a Georgetown audience March 27 that the failure of financial institutional self-regulation helped spark the financial meltdown of September 2008.

Spitzer, part of a panel of politicians, journalists and activists, discussed the role of financial and corporate influence in American politics during “Blueprint for Accountability: The Wall Street-Washington Connection,” part of Georgetown’s annual Lannan Spring Symposium.

“Anybody who’s read history, that understands finance, who looked at the housing market, who looked at the junk market, understood this game was going to end,” he said.

Sidestepping Regulation

Other members of the panel included Matt Taibbi, contributing editor for Rolling Stone magazine; Ron Suskind, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and journalist; Heather McGhee, director of Demos, a policy and advocacy organization; Van Jones, distinguished visiting fellow at Princeton University; and Jesse LaGreca, writer and Occupy Wall Street activist.

Karen Finney, an MSNBC contributor, moderated the event, which included four film clips highlighting the 2008 financial meltdown and exploring Wall Street’s relationship with the U.S. government.

Revolving Door

Other panelists noted that financial institutions sought numerous ways to sidestep outside forms of regulation, including hiring former top government regulators to work at their firms.

“The real problem with the revolving door in regulation in Wall Street is that the best regulators know that if they do their jobs well, there’s an enormously profitable job waiting for them with the very companies that they’re trying to regulate,” Taibbi said.

Suskind explained that the United States, even in its early years, was not a true free market economy.

“From the beginning we have been a regulated free market economy from the start and we don’t get it to work unless there is regulation,” he said.

The Lannan Spring Symposium and Literary Festival is presented every year by Georgetown’s Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice.

The center convenes writers, thinkers and activists for lectures and symposia to promote creative expression, social justice and freedom.

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