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Jeffrey Sachs: 'That's not a free market, that's a game'
The controversial economist talks about the collapse of the global financial system and how to end the crisis.
Last Modified: 11 Dec 2011 07:42

With the financial markets still in turmoil and banks, currencies, even countries struggling to return to normal, the free market is in trouble. 

Viable options are scarce, sparking global protests against the rich 1%.

Jeffrey Sachs, an academic 'superstar' known for his controversial work on shock therapy, a theory that was applied and tested in dramatic fashion with the privatisation of state resources in South America and Russia.

How can the global financial crisis be solved? What went wrong, and what are the stakes? One of the most controversial economists of our time talks to Al Jazeera's Sami Zeidan about the debt crisis, what caused it and how to fix it.

"The banks have said, leave us deregulated, we know how to run things, don't put government in to meddle. Then with that freedom of maneuver they took huge gambles, and even made illegal actions, and then broke the world system. As soon as that happened then they rushed out to say 'bail us out, bail us out, if you don't bail us out, we're too big to fail, you have to save us'. As soon as that happened, they said 'oh, don't regulate us, we know what to do'. And they almost went back to their old story, and the public is standing there, amazed, because we just bailed you out how can you be paying yourself billions of dollars of bonuses again? And the bankers say, 'well we deserve it, what's your problem'? And the problem that the Occupy Wall Street and other protesters have is: you don't deserve it, you nearly broke the system, you gamed the economy, you're paying mega fines, yet you're still in the White House you're going to the state dinners, you're paying yourself huge bonuses, what kind of system is this?

When I talk about this in the United States, I'm often attacked, 'oh, you don't believe in the free market economy', I say, how much free market can there be? You say deregulate, the moment the banks get in trouble, you say bail them out, the moment you bail them out, you say go back to deregulation. That's not a free market, that's a game, and we have to get out of the game. We have to get back to grown-up behaviour." 

Jeffrey Sachs, Columbia University

 

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