Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
January 29, 2009

A Remarkable Speech

Who recently said this?

Although additional protectionism will prove inevitable during the crisis, all of us must display a sense of proportion.

Excessive intervention in economic activity and blind faith in the state's omnipotence is another possible mistake.

True, the state's increased role in times of crisis is a natural reaction to market setbacks. Instead of streamlining market mechanisms, some are tempted to expand state economic intervention to the greatest possible extent.

The concentration of surplus assets in the hands of the state is a negative aspect of anti-crisis measures in virtually every nation.

Not that I totally agree with the above graphs, but in total, I find it to be a quite remarkable speech.

Now tell: Who did you think said the above before you clicked this link?

Posted by b on January 29, 2009 at 12:12 UTC | Permalink


I would guess that it was either Putin or Wen Ji Bao.

Posted by: dan | Jan 29 2009 12:33 utc | 1

I thought Obama said it, and he probably did....

Posted by: alabama | Jan 29 2009 12:37 utc | 2

We have finally come to realize that the two options we face are to regulate businesses or wind up having to socialze them. Most of us agree that the former is the better solution.

The argument was often put forward that regulation would "stifle innovation" in the financial sector. Well, it should do so if those "innovations" include means of hiding bad debt and creating artificial assets.

And I think that we all agree that installing a traffic light on a busy intersection is not "government interference in freedom of movement", it is just a way of assuring that the system works for everybody, not just those with the biggest cars.

Posted by: ralphieboy | Jan 29 2009 12:45 utc | 3

I found this here more interesting - same speech:

The world has lately come to face an unheard-of surge of violence and other aggressive actions, such as Georgia's adventurous sortie in the Caucasus, recent terrorist attacks in India, and escalation of violence in Gaza Strip. Although not apparently linked directly, these developments still have common features.

First of all, I am referring to the existing international organisations' inability to provide any constructive solutions to regional conflicts, or any effective proposals for interethnic and interstate settlement. Multilateral political mechanisms have proved as ineffective as global financial and economic regulators.

Frankly speaking, we all know that provoking military and political instability, regional and other conflicts is a helpful means of distracting the public from growing social and economic problems. Such attempts cannot be ruled out, unfortunately.

To prevent this scenario, we need to improve the system of international relations, making it more effective, safe and stable."

Posted by: outsider | Jan 29 2009 12:50 utc | 4

Spoken by the only real statesman on the international stage for the last decade.

Posted by: Fred | Jan 29 2009 13:07 utc | 5

no alabama, I do not think any western economist would use "surplus assets" for nationalisation

Putin's speech writers analysis rings true - especially the part about printing money:

"The entire economic growth system, where one regional centre prints money without respite and consumes material wealth, while another regional centre manufactures inexpensive goods and saves money printed by other governments, has suffered a major setback.

I would like to add that this system has left entire regions, including Europe, on the outskirts of global economic processes and has prevented them from adopting key economic and financial decisions.

Moreover, generated prosperity was distributed extremely unevenly among various population strata. This applies to differences between social strata in certain countries, including highly developed ones. And it equally applies to gaps between countries and regions.

A considerable share of the world's population still cannot afford comfortable housing, education and quality health care. Even a global recovery posted in the last few years has failed to radically change this situation.

And, finally, this crisis was brought about by excessive expectations. Corporate appetites with regard to constantly growing demand swelled unjustifiably. The race between stock market indices and capitalisation began to overshadow rising labour productivity and real-life corporate effectiveness.

Unfortunately, excessive expectations were not only typical of the business community. They set the pace for rapidly growing personal consumption standards, primarily in the industrial world. We must openly admit that such growth was not backed by a real potential. This amounted to unearned wealth, a loan that will have to be repaid by future generations.

This pyramid of expectations would have collapsed sooner or later. In fact, this is happening right before our eyes."

Posted by: outsider | Jan 29 2009 13:50 utc | 6

Kinda charming to see the shift in global economic power revealed in the statements of former communist leaders -- now better capitalists than the West.

Speaking of a multi-polar currency regime, whatever happened to the threatened shift of oil bourses to the Euro -- the main reason advanced by some behind the Iraq war?

Posted by: seneca | Jan 29 2009 14:40 utc | 7

"In the last few months, virtually every speech on this subject started with criticism of the United States. But I will do nothing of the kind.

I just want to remind you that, just a year ago, American delegates speaking from this rostrum emphasised the US economy's fundamental stability and its cloudless prospects. Today, investment banks, the pride of Wall Street, have virtually ceased to exist. In just 12 months, they have posted losses exceeding the profits they made in the last 25 years. This example alone reflects the real situation better than any criticism."


Great speach, do you think anyone attending was listening?

Posted by: David | Jan 29 2009 15:46 utc | 8

Great speach, do you think anyone attending was listening?

Yep, I am pretty sure. Also remarkable that the Wall Street Journal puts it up in full.

Posted by: b | Jan 29 2009 16:26 utc | 9

When a leader of a country that lost her status as a top superpower in the world just a few decades ago has a far better grasp of the global economy (especially as it relates to war) than the leader of the super-est of superpowers of the world, then we know it's high time for America to hang up her hat as a superpower for good.

Posted by: Cynthia | Jan 29 2009 16:53 utc | 10

Incredible speech (note spelling David), saying it as it is, rather than Gordon Brown speechifying about "UK economy best placed against others to weather this".


Naw, just a shit-hot clever guy.

Posted by: Cloned Poster | Jan 29 2009 16:55 utc | 11

Not surprising. Back in the day when he was stationed in E.Germany, Putin was charged with studying capitalist systems and industry. So he's a bit of a deep student of the subject.

This fact about him has been obscured in the west by the propaganda about the KGB agent stealing western technology. Remember, this was in the post Andropov Gorbachev (ptui, ptui) era, when the KGB was a force for change in the USSR.

Posted by: Thrasyboulos | Jan 29 2009 17:37 utc | 12

BTW, the will deliberate stupidity of the western media about Putin is a measure of how much he's managed to get under their skin. They'll never forgive for Khodorovsky et al, of course. Bitterness does not begin to describe how they feel, to a man and woman. Very amusing.

Posted by: Thrasyboulos | Jan 29 2009 17:53 utc | 13

Cloned Poster- How 'bout KGB/Politics/Business and a guy clever enough to rise to the top of all three...

b- the gears of the world are shifting/shifted, more and more "urban" americans are comfortable with the idea of globalism, or should I say, comfortable with any idea proposed to "fix" what is unfixable. Us hicks in the sticks, look at what's happening and don't like it, because some of us know where it leads, others because it means change and they hate ANY change, even if it were out of wet shorts.

The urban types run the show over on this side of the pond, even out here in the sticks. It's the smart, greedy city slickers, recently relocated to the boondocks, wearing a new Stetson on their head, with a lawyer in their back pocket and forty shitty acres to develop (once they get rid of the cattle ranch next door) who slime the halls of power and slip right into office. They'd sell their three-year-olds to white slavers if the price were right and never once lose a wink of sleep over the deal... unless someone stopped by afterwards and offered more.

These folks don't care what the face on the tv looks like, as long as the dollars flow. Global equality through global greed.

Damn got off subject, what I'm saying is that that the american business/political elite don't care whose face is in front of the masses, as long as they're still making money. I'm sure the folks at the WSJ (or their masters) are curious how that paper's readership responds

I still think the speech is a fine moment of statesmanship, but I spoke on the phone with a friend about it and he dismissed the whole thing saying, "He just blamed everything on the United States," which I guess must be NPR's take on what was said, because my friend hadn't read the speech.

Posted by: David | Jan 29 2009 18:03 utc | 14

The concentration of surplus assets in the hands of the state is a negative aspect of anti-crisis measures in virtually every nation.

no alabama, I do not think any western economist would use "surplus assets" for nationalisation

outsider (@6), I have trouble parsing your sentence.

If I take "use for" to mean "using the phrase 'surplus assets' for", and then suppose you simply omitted to put the word nationalisation in quotes, then your sentance tells us something about the speaker's idiom--and I agree that Obama would put the idea in slightly different language.

If, however, you employ the words "use for" to mean "using surplus assets for nationalization", then I take it that you read the sentence cited by b to mean something like "let's not use the $900 billion to nationalize the banks we're bailing out"--i.e. I take your comment as a paraphrase of the speaker's opinion on economic policy (an opinion not to be found, you tell me, in the writings of "western economists").

While I agree that Obama would not use the phrase "surplus assets" to describe the bailout fund, it remains the case that if I take your sentence in the second way--as in fact I do--then I would have to disagree with you, for I really do believe that the sentence cited by b expresses Obama's thoughts about the function of the bailout fund: I take the sentence to be saying, in effect, "we aren't socialists, and we aren't trying to nationalize the banks".

Or has Obama, in fact, been telling us something else?

I'm a grammarian, of course, and not an economist....

Posted by: alabama | Jan 29 2009 20:04 utc | 15

Putin is playing to his audience, and giving obvious talking points, good ones in today’s miserable landscape. My comments in (..) and my *.

He melds various memes:

- China US trade imbalance

- failure of Wall Street (but not the Russian banks or the rouble)

- more regulation is needed (duh but what who knows)

- lack of relation between the ‘real’ economy and finance, growth not backed by real potential..

- development is stalled or didn’t happen (surprise! sound pious)

- excessive expectations (aka. greed) is to blame

- Isolationism and protectionism must be not be embraced - trade barriers, boo! I apologize for our nation not embracing the free market in the past... (!)

here is a key phrase:

This means we must assess the real situation and write off all hopeless debts and "bad" assets.

(oil rich countries would prefer a leveling so that they can sell their assets; a recession and low commodity prices are death for them.)

and another:

Second. Apart from cleaning up our balance sheets, it is high time we got rid of *virtual money*, exaggerated reports and dubious ratings.


... that the audit, accounting and ratings system reform must be based on a reversion to the fundamental asset value concept. In other words, assessments of each individual business must be based on its ability to generate added value, rather than on subjective concepts. In our opinion, the economy of the future must become an economy of *real values*....

(nail salons, hedge funds, Starbucks don't represent real values; CDS are subjective values, etc.)

Excessive dependence on a single reserve currency is dangerous for the global economy.

heh! Surprised he said it. The drift of the rest is clear, this post is too long already.

Posted by: Tangerine | Jan 29 2009 20:23 utc | 16

It is encouraging to read Putin’s speech at Davos and I applaud most of what he said. But one comment leaves me wondering if any major player on the world stage will ever realize/admit and verbalize that unlimited growth is ultimately unsustainable (uguu).

The global economy could face trite energy-resource shortages and the threat of thwarted future growth while overcoming the crisis.

To be fair he didn’t say “unlimited” growth but in the minds of the capitalists captains and the general populace, isn’t that the insinuation? His mention of interdependence softens this a little for me and I have to believe/hope that he is far too intelligent to not realize this. I guess it’s just that most of the corporate and financial players would write him off if he were to even suggest such heresy. But I have to agree overall, a remarkable speech.

Posted by: Juannie | Jan 29 2009 22:28 utc | 17

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